Lawler named conservation communicator of year

Published 5:39 pm Saturday, July 16, 2016

James “Big Daddy” Lawler, of Camden, has always had a passion for the outdoors and has been doing his part of getting people outside with various radio shows over the past decade.

In recognition or his achievements over the years, the Alabama Wildlife Federation named Lawler as this year’s Conservation Communicator of the Year.

“It’s a very prestigious honor and I am very honored and humbled to received it,” Lawler said.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards will be presented at a banquet on Friday, Aug. 5 in Prattville.

Lawler said the award wouldn’t have been possible with out the help of his sponsors, listeners, correspondents and other supporters.

“It’s a team effort,” Lawler said. “I’m just going to be up there accepting the award on behalf of all the people that help me do what I do.”

Lawler said his passion for the outdoors began as a child. But the connection with media didn’t occur until he was older.

In 1979, Lawler and his brother purchased the local bait shop. Every week a reporter, Buddy Smith from the Mobile Press Register, would call asking for a fishing report. That report, in turn, would attract people into the area to fish.

“That’s when I realized the power of the press and the media,” Lawler said. “When you live in a rural area like Dallas, Wilcox Counties, until we had the Internet and all that, the outdoor magazines, television shows and radio was the only way you could get your message out.”

But hosting a radio show wasn’t really a thought until TV show hosts Archie Phillips and Ken Tucker influenced him, when they told him there was a market in rural Alabama for an outdoor radio show.

After wearing many different hats in the years following, his door of opportunity in media opened in 2006 with a radio show in Demopolis called Chattin’ Outdoors. After 113 episodes, Lawler left the radio business for a while to invest his time in growing a sawmill business.

But he wasn’t gone for long. In 2010, Lawler teamed up with WJD 95.5 in Thomasville to start Gettin’ Outdoors Radio Show. After four years and 227 shows, the Gettin’ Outdoors Network launched and can be heard live every Saturday morning on WALX 100.9, in Selma and Prattville; WJDB 95.5, in Thomasville and Jackson; and WSLY 104.9, in York and Meridian.

Lawler said the show covers all current events happening in the Alabama Blackbelt, the state of Alabama and even nation wide.

“Anything happening outdoors, we stay on top of it,” Lawler said.

“The outdoors and our natural resources is an industry just as valuable as any brink and mortar industry you can bring into our area.”