Dallas radio personality and food festival founder Jim White dies

Dallas radio personality and food festival founder Jim White dies

Jim and Vicki White at Dallas Arboretum
Jim White, always with wife Vicki Briley-White by his side. Photo courtesy of Savor Dallas

Dallas radio personality Jim White, who co-founded the Savor Dallas food festival as well as Restaurant Week, died on June 4.

His wife Vicki Briley-White confirmed that White passed away while in hospice care, after the couple learned he had cancer just two months before.

"This has been a fast and shocking journey for us," she said. "We had barely comprehended that he was ill, much less that he is now gone from us."

White, who had a mellifluous voice that could melt ice, was a longtime radio personality, serving as a news anchor and talk show host for 1080 KRLD for a decade from 1995-2004.

He was probably Dallas' original foodie in his capacity as host of "The KRLD Restaurant Show with Jim White," a two-hour live talk-show featuring famous chefs, cookbook authors, winemakers, and restaurateurs from around the world, earning a James Beard Foundation nomination for "Best Radio Show on Food."

While at KRLD, he co-founded KRLD Restaurant Week, the annual fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank.

From 1995-1997, he was morning and afternoon news anchor, and was honored by the Associated Press for "Best Newscast in Texas." His silver-tongued voice became a signature for KRLD, and earned him many requests for voice-over and emcee gigs.

He was ahead of his time in his enthusiasm for the food and beverage scene, producing and hosting videos featuring famous chefs, winemakers, and wine and food destinations, long before social media made such coverage common.

Inspired by food festivals they'd seen in other cities, and utilizing Briley-White's experience as chair of annual wine auction event Côtes du Coeur, the couple founded Savor Dallas in 2005, trailblazing the idea of a foodie festival in Dallas and drawing crowds of more than 4,000 people.

White recalled in 2013 that the event's launch fortuitously coincided with the debut of Stella Artois Beer in the Dallas-Fort Worth market; they served the beer ice cold on tap in a chalice, which attendees could take home for free.

The festival was eventually acquired by the Dallas Morning News in 2014, which let it flounder; its final year was 2018.

Always abreast of new media, White subsequently founded Wining & Dining with Jim White, a website and podcast enterprise where he interviewed top chefs and figures in the wine and spirits world.

White was still a student at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1968 when he was recruited to work at the then-new Dallas TV station Channel 39. At the same time, he worked weekends with radio legend Ron Chapman, nudging him into a successful broadcast career before he was able to graduate from college.

In addition to Dallas, he had radio experience at news and talk stations in Chicago and San Francisco, serving as reporter, weather anchor, and host; in satellite radio; and as an actor and voice-over actor in commercials, corporate spokesperson, and film.

"He will be greatly missed by me and others," Vicki said. "He was a kind, generous, highly principled, loving man who wanted everyone to succeed. He never held any hard feelings. A rare man indeed."

A memorial service will be held on June 17 at 1:30 pm at Wilshire Baptist Church Sanctuary, 4316 Abrams Rd. Dallas. A reception will follow in the Community Hall.