Bill Austin entertained radio and TV audiences in Phoenix for over 20 years. His laser quick wit and remarkable warmth made him everyone's friend. Bill died at the age of 55 on June 2, 2010. Initial funding for Spirit & Word was provided from Bill's estate and we have felt his spirit as we built this site.
Spiritually, Bill was a seeker and looked at all people with openness and acceptance. It is fair to say that Bill never really studied the Gospels; he lived them. He was curious about the person he often called, "That God fellow." He saw connections with all life and nature. He remarked often about an awe he felt with so many aspects of creation. He didn't walk just one path in his spiritual journey; he wanted to know about them all.
It is that openness and inclusion that we hope to build into Spirit & Word. If you embrace a particular faith tradition, we welcome you and hope you will find this place supportive. If you are curious, you are welcome also. Here, we hope you will discover many ways of approaching the spiritual journey. As Bill might say, "Try it all on until you find something that fits!"
Beth McDonald was Bill's radio partner for over two decades on 99.9 KEZ. Beth probably knew Bill better than anyone. So, we asked Beth to share more about her unique relationship with Bill.
My relationship with Bill, which spanned 20 years on the radio, was very special. Five days a week we spent four hours a day sitting just three feet from each other in a little studio doing our show… for me it was about as close to complete bliss as something can be. Working with Bill wasn’t a job, it was a joy! We laughed… and we cried. I helped him laugh his way through his painful divorce in the mid-90’s… and he did the same for me a few short years later. But during the last year of the show both of our lives drastically changed. Bill was diagnosed with cancer and eventually it was clear that he could no longer stay on the air.
I would have to go on without him.
Even while Bill was fighting for his life the fun did continue. I was amazed at his resilience during his chemotherapy… he still managed to show up in the morning and make his radio magic.
The relationship we shared was about as pure as anything I’ve ever seen between a man and a woman. There were no sexual overtones… just a pure love between two people who valued and respected each other. Bill really helped me to bloom… and he gave me a huge gift: He let me be me. He didn’t judge or begrudge. He lifted and helped me soar. I hope that in some measure I was able to do the same for him. In fact, before he left he said something so very important to me… just four words: “You can do this.”
A priest friend asked me, years ago, what religion Bill followed. I told him that Bill’s philosophy was very simple: Be Good. The priest agreed that in the end that’s how we really should live our lives.
Saying goodbye to Bill is about the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life. He will always be a part of me. And isn’t it wonderful that Bill’s spirit will continue through the good works of Spirit and Word Ministry. His belief was that we should “Be Good”… and now we continue on to “Do Good.”