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Thursday, October 8, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Bashful' Bobby Wooten Wasn't A Shy Dj

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

"Bashful" Bobby Wooten, a popular disc jockey and program director on Seattle's "Kountry KAYO" 1150-AM radio from 1963 to 1975, actually was shy, says his wife.

But when it came to publicity, the man also known as "The Reticent One" was "as bashful as a tank of barracuda," said a colleague.

He had phony on-air feuds with fellow KAYO DJ Buck Ritchey. He stayed two weeks in a camper suspended 15 feet above the station until listeners guessed what he'd packed along (a U.S. flag). And he lived six months in an apartment on the Space Needle, doing shows from there.

"(Bobby) was still getting cards from fans a few years ago," said Mr. Wooten's wife of 31 years, Patie Mae Wooten of Carlisle, Ark. And he was still getting royalty checks from "Goin' Deer Huntin'," a song he'd recorded. "It was only $5 or $18 a year. But he'd puff up and say, `They're still likin' it!' "

Mr. Wooten died of cancer Oct. 1 in Carlisle, Ark. He was 70.

"There are a lot of people who remember him," said family friend Betty Sites of Lynnwood. "Bobby was twice voted program director of the year by Billboard magazine. He recorded local country artists like Bonnie Guitar on his G.R.C. label."

Mr. Wooten, who changed his name from Wootton for professional reasons, was a musician himself. He played guitar, banjo, fiddle and the flat-picked dobro.

"Once at a dance they were playing, the drummer never showed," said his wife. "So Bobby sat down at the drums and did pretty well, too."

The youngest of five children born to a family near Paris, Ark., he left school at age 14 and moved to San Francisco to work in the shipyards.

He began playing in a Western-swing band that got gigs on the radio. He eventually got up nerve to ask a radio-station manager to hire him as a DJ. When the manager burst out laughing, Mr. Wooten found a sponsor who would buy time only if Mr. Wooten did the show. In 1952 he became a DJ in San Jose.

In the late 1950s he had a show in Salt Lake City.

In 1963 he moved to Seattle after KAYO changed its format from rock music to country. He welcomed country stars who were to play at Seattle Center, and emceed shows for artists such as Buck Owens, Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash.

"Bashful" Bobby retired in 1975, and returned to Arkansas to raise cattle and chickens. "We had a hard life on that farm 18 years before we got out," said his wife. "But it gave us experiences we'll never forget."

Other survivors include his children Ronald Wootton of Vista, Calif.; Beverly Marsh and Barbara Hoffman, both of Seattle; stepchildren Melissa Zimmerman of Seattle; and Michelle Roloff of Port Orchard; sister Mattie Sue Adams of Vallejo, Calif.; and 10 grandchildren. His 24-year-old grandson, Kenne Wootton, died Sept. 18 in a motorcycle accident.

No local services are planned. Remembrances may go to American Lung Association of Washington, 2625 Third Ave., Seattle, WA 98121.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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