Stephanie Gade hasn’t lived in Brownwood for very long, but said she wishes she’d arrived sooner. “I love this community,” she said on Friday. “If I’d known before what I know now about Brownwood, I would have been here a long time ago.”   

The venerable 94.3 The Ox morning host has played a lot of roles in her life but has finally arrived back at her first love, the radio. And in a nation divided, Gade said she’s committed to hosting a show that celebrates the lighter, happier, looser side of contemporary culture. “I keep it very non-political,” she said. “I play games with people and we give away prizes. I’m blessed to able to get up and do this every day.”   

Gade grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, an only child to her mother and father who worked in marketing and drove trucks to supply grocery stores, respectively. “They were both very hard-working,” Gade said. “They gave me a very good work ethic.”   

Gade said she found out fast where her true passions lie. “I knew since the age of 7 that this is what I was supposed to do,” she said. “I used to play radio in the basement of my house. I would have a Panasonic record player, a cassette player and a newspaper. I would read the sports out of the newspaper and play Michael Jackson songs on the record player, and I would make tapes of myself playing DJ.”   

She took her talents to Hastings Community College and got a communications degree, all the while working her way into the radio business. When she was 23, a friend moved to Texas to be closer to her boyfriend at Sheppard Air Force Base. She asked Gade to come along, and they moved together to Wichita Falls.   

Gade worked there as on-air talent at a country music station before eventually moving to the Metroplex and transitioning to sales. She said she made “a couple of mistakes” early in her career — “You’ve got to turn your mic off when somebody’s yelling at you,” she said — but soon missed the excitement of being on the air.    

“When you sit in a cubicle and listen to the radio when you’re not doing it,” she said, “you get really itchy.” To help get reconnected with the radio business, Gade attended a broadcasting school in Arlington. At 38 years old and after years in sales, she was finally moving back to the career she dreamed of as a child.   

Her first stint back in radio was doing traffic reports for Dallas station WBAP. Eventually she began doing remote traffic broadcasts for stations around the country.   

Gade’s last job before Brownwood was in sales for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, which shares ownership with the Bulletin. But now she’s back in the studio for 94.3 The Ox, which touches 12 counties in central Texas including Brown. “Having a big regional radio station, we feel like we can reach more people,” she said. “I’m so thankful for what I do every day.”

More information on The Ox is available at www.KYOXFM.com.