From the Pacific Northwest to the North Sea, William Blake Broderson’s voice travelled the world over in his almost half-century on the radio. While his voice will live on, Blake Williams (as those in the Estancia Valley knew him) died Sunday after complications from an asthma attack.
Williams was born March 16, 1958 and spent the last 14 years with Terry “Dakota” Schmidt.
While Williams was known for his mellifluous voice, according to him it was the same as any other person. “It was just his voice,” Schmidt said. “It wasn’t anything different to him and he didn’t think it sounded better than anyone else’s.”
Schmidt went on to say that Williams knew how to use that voice and could change the accents and ages at the drop of a hat. He could even do impersonations.
“He did voice overs and movie shoots but his passion was radio in general,” Schmidt said. “From sunup to sundown that was his whole life.”
And he did keep himself busy up until the last minute with TV stations on the West Coast and New Mexico, plus radio stations from KXNM in McIntosh to several others in central New Mexico and Replay Radio in the United Kingdom.
Williams started his radio career at age 12 growing up on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. At 15 he had his own pirate radio station in the back yard and there were “people hanging out all the time just to watch him do his little radio show in the back yard in a shed,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt added that “El Blaker,” as Williams was called in the UK, loved being out on the North Sea on Radio Caroline on MV Ross Revenge in 1984. There were no laws governing radio broadcasting at sea, and the mast on that ship was over 200 feet. “Blake would be on there for weeks, months, and he loved it,” Schmidt said.
He spent a year at sea as chief engineer for Radio Caroline, after another stint on a different boat as radio engineer for MV Communicator.
Williams also lived on Guam for a few years, and worked for several radio stations there early in his career. He met Schmidt in Tucson, the pair moved to Moriarty in the early 2000s and later married.
“I want to give many, many thanks for all of the support from friends and our community in my time of loss,” Schmidt said. He added that Williams got a lot of support over their years in Moriarty.
Schmidt added that “everybody was equal with him, there was not anybody above him not anybody below him.” And it was evident that Williams wanted to help people by the stack of events he volunteered to emcee.
At the top of that list was KXNM Radio, which was an idea he and the late Al Geduld came up with several years ago in their kitchen, Schmidt said. Williams was not only on-air talent, but he was the station’s engineer.
“The radio station will never be the same,” KXNM station manager Dixie Swenka said. “He was always there for us—honest and on time and a good personal friend. This is a total shock.”
Swenka said that she was often surprised by the things he would bring to her attention. “He had so many facets—it was interesting to see his other aspects.”
Art Swenka is the KXNM board president and worked side-by-side with Williams more than anyone. “I can’t tell you how much I will miss him personally and professionally,” Swenka said, as he worked on keeping the station on the air during a Tuesday power outage.
“The thing I always respected about Blake was that he always insisted on doing the right thing,” Art Swenka said. “It had to be right or he wouldn’t accept it.”
Since 2006, Williams had appeared in several movies and television, including Longmire, starring Robert Taylor and Lou Diamond Phillips. He also appeared in the movie Crazy Heart, which starred Jeff Bridges.
While Williams was a self-avowed workaholic, Schmidt said that Cowboy Blake (yet another stage name) enjoyed living in the country with all the animals on the rescue ranch that Schmidt started.
“Our friends and family in our small-knit community meant everything to him, and to me,” Schmidt said. And William Blake Broderson left an everlasting mark on the Estancia Valley.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William H. Broderson and Mary Obregon. Survivors are stepmother Rosa Broderson, Casas Grandes, Ariz.; sister Heidi Broderson and son Tyler, of Showlow, Ariz.; and sister Mary Broderson and son Hans, Scottsdale. No services are yet scheduled.
After cremation, Williams will be laid to rest with his father in Arizona.