Fred Bodimer describes his career at KMOX radio as, simply, "doing my job," showing up to work each day for the past 34 years.
Nothing remarkable about it.
But Bodimer's career has been about more than just showing up. The hallmarks of his life's work have been integrity, fairness and excellence. In other words, journalism at a high level.
On Tuesday, the KMOX religion editor was honored for those attributes ... or for, in his words, a job well-done.
Bodimer, 56, accepted the fifth installment of the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Excellence in Communications award at ceremonies in conjunction with the feast day for St. Francis de Sales — a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Carlson and an award luncheon — at Cardinal Rigali Center. St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of Catholic media.
"I'm humbled to be chosen for just doing my job," said Bodimer in remarks to a crowd that included his mother, two sisters and colleagues from KMOX. His wife, Marie, and two sons were unable to attend, but he praised them for their support over the years.
Bodimer grew up in south St. Louis, a graduate of Roosevelt High School. He joined KMOX fresh out of the University of Missouri journalism program.
"There's never been a day that I didn't enjoy going to work; I look forward to every single day," he said. "That's why I'm probably still here. I'm just thrilled to do what I do and share these stories with people."
He has been sharing stories about religion for the past 32 years, taking the religion beat after CBS canceled a national religion program. KMOX chief, the late Robert Hyland, concluded KMOX needed to keep covering religion in the "Rome of the West" and asked for a volunteer. Bodimer stepped up and went to full-time status from part-time, which included a 20-hour shift from 3 p.m. on Fridays to noon Saturdays. "I brought two lunches," he quipped.
Over the years, Bodimer interviewed or covered many world religious leaders, including St. Mother Teresa, St. Pope John Paul II, Rev. Billy Graham, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. He also conferred regularly by phone with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now the Archbishop of New York, but then the rector at Pontifical North American College of Rome, within site of the Vatican.
"He's one of my favorite people to interview," said Bodimer, who also served 25 years as president and elder at Our Redeemer of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in south St. Louis. "He kind of became my correspondent at the Vatican."
Cardinal Dolan is among 14 St. Louis clergy whom Bodimer has covered to be elevated to bishop, archbishop or cardinal elsewhere in the country since 1984.
"That's quite an honor for the archdiocese," said Bodimer, who likewise commended the archdiocesan communications staff "for always giving me what I need and on time."
Bodimer expressed gratitude for receiving the award and for Archbishop Carlson for having the award.
"A lot of time reporters do stories that just go out to the airwaves and we don't get a reaction, so I'm grateful to hear feedback that the archdiocese is listening and appreciates what we do," said Bodimer, who even though he might have to cover difficult issues at times, "at least I hope (those stories) are fair, because I know that's how the staff of the archdiocese has always treated me."
Elizabeth Westhoff, from the communications office, confirmed Bodimer's trademark fairness. Archbishop Carlson likewise praised him.
"He has demonstrated excellence and has made a lasting impact on the Catholic Church and our community," the archbishop said. RELATED ARTICLE(S):