My life changed in the fall of 1964. I was an assistant junior varsity football
coach for TL Hanna High School in Anderson, South Carolina. One afternoon
at practice, fellow assistant coach Dennis Patterson and I noticed a young
man mimicking everything we did. He was an eighteen years old who could
not read, write, or speak. Coach Patterson and I befriended the young man
with the promise of snacks and sodas. This boy's love of music and his
transistor radio earned him the nickname "Radio," and the rest is history.
Radio, otherwise known as James Robert Kennedy, began helping out with
the team at practice and at both home and away games. Slowly, but surely, he
was accepted by the rest of the staff at Hanna and the community as a whole.
In the early 70's he started coming to the school and helping the coaches in
the gym. Coach Patterson took another job in a nearby town, and I went on to
become head track coach, head football coach and athletic director. Radio
continued to help with all of the athletic teams and was allowed to roam the
halls, delivering notes to teachers and even sitting in on some classes.
Radio was always with me on the sidelines and became loved by the entire
In 1996, award winning magazine writer Gary Smith published an article about
the relationship between Radio and me. The article ran in Sports Illustrated
and was entitled "Someone to Lean On." This article introduced the world to
Anderson's favorite son.
I retired in 1999, but my relationship with Radio is as strong today as it has
ever been. Linda and I continue to take care of his needs, seeing him at
home and at school. We also take many trips together throughout the year,
which Radio looks forward to with great anticipation. Radio is still a fixture at
TL Hanna. He moves freely throughout the school handing out hugs and high
fives. He helps in the lunch room keeping students from "cutting the line,"
cleaning off tables and taking out the trash. It is "my job," he says. He still
travels with and "coaches" the football, basketball, and boys soccer teams.
Crowds from both TL Hanna and their opponents adore Radio, and there isn't
a moment when fans aren't yelling for him: "Hey Radio, we love you. Come
over here Radio." He waves, making sure all of the fans see him, and then
it's off for his signature cheer with the cheerleaders.
One common bond we both share is a desire to help others through service.
Radio volunteers at the Haven of Rest (a mens shelter). He helps serve
Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day. I am on the advisory board of the
Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club and the Disability and Special Needs
Board of Anderson County. I am also on the board of the Outdoor Dream
Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that sends terminally ill
children on hunting, fishing and other outdoor trips all over the nation. At
Christmas, Radio and I ring the bell and collect money for the Salvation
Army's red kettles.
Radio and I have learned so much from each other over the years. Recently
our story was depicted in the Revolution Studios' movie "Radio," a Columbia
Pictures release. Through the magic of Gary Smith, screenwriter Mike Rich,
director/producer Mike Tollin, actors Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding, Jr. and all
of the people at Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures, sharing our story
with the world has been a truly blessed experience.
Thank you for visiting!
Jesus Christ our Lord loves you.
In God We Trust.
Coach Harold Jones