In light of the passing of radio legend Doug Banks, EBONY.com dug deep into our magazine’s archives and found this story about the affable, super talented Banks from the June 2001 issue. Re-read the story and experience the images of this beloved broadcaster with his wife Wendy and two daughters, Kennede and Kelli Banks. Story by: Lynn Norment; Photography: Vandell Cobb
Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” This gleeful greeting welcomes syndicated radio disc jockey Doug Banks to his Dallas home after several hours of hosting “The Doug Banks Show.” The fact that 2 million listeners in 45 markets tune in to their father each day is irrelevant to Kennede, 6, and Kelli, 4. They just want daddy’s ear and attention as they bombard him with questions and tidbits from their active lives.
This is the side of Doug Banks that his radio fans don’t hear or see, but one that is equally important to this devoted husband and father.
That’s why he built them a fabulous home in Dallas not too far from the ABC Radio studios from which his show originates. Banks and his wife Wendy designed the 16-room house that has six bedrooms, six full baths, four fireplaces and garage space for four cars. The spacious, airy house is a wonder––with its beveled glass-and-mahogany double doors, black granite floors, many decks and patios, ceiling-to-floor windows that offer incredible views, and an abundance of African art.
“We really built this house with comfort in mind,” says Banks while relaxing with Wendy on the veranda overlooking the pool.
“I like to say,” Banks continues, “when you come to our house, you don’t just come and stay for an hour or two hours. We’d like to see you come with a change of clothes and stay for a weekend. There is a lot of warmth, a lot of room. That’s what we love about the house.”
Doug and Wendy worked with an architect to create their dream home. He takes credit for designing the fabulous, half-moon-shaped pool with a waterfall that cascades over the disappearing edge. A hot tub and water fountain are at opposite ends of the crest.
The master bedroom is on the first floor. There are also Doug’s office, Wendy’s study, the living room, dining room, and spacious kitchen with breakfast area that opens onto the family room. Nearby is a home theater with a 127-inch screen and four 32-inch TV screens. Upstairs are a game room with billiards table and high-powered telescope, an exercise room, the girls’ bedroom and playroom, a guest suite and several other rooms.
As though it were yesterday, Wendy and Doug recall the day in May 1993 when they met in Chicago. Banks was en route to a radio promotion when Wendy happened to stop at a florist nearby. “I walked up to her and was trying to say something but couldn’t form a sentence,” says the man who makes his living with smooth talk. “She finally looked at me and said, ‘What do you want? To go out or something?’” He nodded and asked for her number. When he called her that evening, she asked, “Doug who?” She had not looked at his card and was not familiar with Doug Banks the radio star.
Two months later he proposed. That December they surprised friends and family invited to a Christmas party by exchanging vows. When asked what attracted him to Wendy, Banks says: “Her sense of understanding. Wendy is a very caring and loving person. She wasn’t phased by who I was or what I did or how much money I made.”
Wendy says: “He was such a gentleman. Kind. Wonderful personality. He wasn’t pretentious. He didn’t have to go out of his way to be nice. He didn’t have to dress up. We had a wonderful time together. It was a dream come true.”
For Banks as well. And he takes his role as father very seriously. “As a father, I’m very caring. I love my girls very much. Sometimes kids have a tendency to try you, and you have to kind of balance that out. In my private times I always say a little prayer and ask for more patience with my kids. I probably spoil them too much, but again, they’re mine.”
He says the girls’ personalities are starkly different. Says their mom: “Kennede has Doug’s personality. She is very considerate, very caring. She doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Nonconfrontational. Very gentle.”
Adds Banks: “Kelli, on the other hand, does her own thing. She’s aggressive; she’s her own person. She will challenge you; she will push you. But she knows her limitations. She won’t step over the line because she knows she will be disciplined. But she will definitely challenge you.”
When the girls do step over the line, dad does not hesitate to discipline them. “I don’t like to do it at all, and I don’t necessarily believe in ‘time out.’ When you do something bad, my hand is going to meet your bottom. That’s the way it is. I don’t like to do it because I can’t stand to have my kids cry. I hate it, but I believe that in order for them to grow up and become responsible adults, they’ve got to be trained and disciplined.”
Banks says that’s how his mother reared him in Detroit. She did not spare the rod.
He started his career on his high school radio station, which led to a late-night gig with a Detroit station. After graduation, a Los Angeles station offered him a job. Banks was only 18, but that didn’t keep him from starting at the top. He then worked in Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas and then back in Chicago before he moved to Dallas in 1994 and launched his syndicated ABC radio show.
While Banks’ radio career continues to escalate, he says he will probably retire from the air in five years or so. “I’d like to own a couple of radio stations,” he says. “My ultimate goal is to move someplace and live on a boat.”
And give up this fabulous house?
“This house is great, but I want to be near water, in a condo, something with a boat at the end of the dock. When we want to go, we will just get up and go. Just Wendy and Doug and Kennede and Kelli. The four of us. This house is very comfortable, but I don’t want an emotional attachment.”
Easier said than done.
Read comments and memories from industry peers and co-hosts, here.