Tom Ruiz, of the “B and the Breakfast Club” radio morning talk show.
Tom Ruiz, or “Tom A” as many know him, is rarely seen around town without his pocket microphone in hand. His voice is even more familiar to listeners across southeastern New Mexico as Kevin Bonner’s sidekick on the popular “B and the Breakfast Club” radio morning talk show.
Listeners have joked with him about his life’s ups and downs. They know all about the details of his 92-day marriage. They laugh about his battle of the bulge.
But what they don’t know the story of his perseverance to overcome personal tragedy and his dedication to pursue his dream that led him to Roswell.
One of four children, Ruiz grew up traveling the western states. His father was a migrant farmhand, who had legally moved to Texas to marry his mother.
“We worked on several farms doing migrant work,” Ruiz said. “As kids, we didn’t know better. It was grapes in the summer in California. We picked tomatoes, potatoes. You name it. And we trekked across the country in a Buick ‘68.”
His father would pull up to roadside rest stops at the end of the day. The family would unfold blankets and climb onto the big car.
“Everybody slept on the hood. We would stare at the stars at night,” Ruiz said. “That was pretty cool. What a way to see the country!”
In 1974, his father died tragically as result of a violent crime. Ruiz was 13 and the [auth] oldest child.
He remembers sitting across from his mother at their small kitchen table shortly after.
“She looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Don’t get in trouble because I can’t help you,’” Ruiz said. “She didn’t blink. Didn’t stutter. I never got into any trouble after that.
“Six years later, she was gone.”
His mother moved the children back to Midland, where her family lived.
Ruiz later entered school at Midland College. During his freshman year, he took an internship at a radio station in the city to pursue his goal of broadcasting. Since age 11, he had “practiced” announcing games.
“When baseball games would come on, I would turn down the volume and pretend I was an announcer in the living room,” he said.
He took the internship, working the graveyard shift to give weather updates once an hour and record commercials.
Ruiz would spend his extra time in the back, learning and practicing with equipment. One day, his boss came to him at the end of his shift.
“He said to me, ‘Are you leaving?’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’ I was going to sleep!” Ruiz said.
His boss explained the midday host had an accident and he needed a replacement. He asked if Ruiz was ready.
“I’m think in my mind, ‘Am I ready for what?’ It occurred to me, he’s giving me a shot,” Ruiz said. “When somebody gives you a shot like that you don’t say no. You may never get another. I told him, ‘That’s a bold move you’re making.’”
Ruiz walked into the studio, put on his “cans” and sat down.
“I was shaking like a leaf,” he said. “I took a deep breath. I’m thinking, ‘oh my God, here we go.’ I flip over the microphone. And back in the day, this was an art. You had to meet the clock. You had to make sure the record you spun didn’t go ‘shnnn, shnnn.’ There were buttons to push. It was a span of seconds that you had to do this.”
The record started and his on-air career began—with a few hitches.
“I messed up throughout the show. I messed up some,” Ruiz laughed. “After it was over, the director came in and said, ‘I’m going to put you on the weekends. And that’s how it started.”
And then, tragedy struck.
When his mother died, he found himself once again sitting around the small kitchen table, this time with his two brothers and his sister.
“…We had to pull up our boot straps,” Ruiz said. “My mom always wanted us to go to college and finish. I don’t think anyone thought we were going to do it.”
His brother, Dave, earned a degree and became a corporate pilot, and lives in Waco. His sister is a social worker and lives in California. His brother, Pete, earned a degree in law enforcement and is a drug and alcohol counselor in Texas. Ruiz earned a communications degree from Midland College.
Ruiz went to work full-time for the radio station. He then went into writing for a newspaper for 15 years, but the love of radio stayed with him.
In 2000, he had a chance to return as a sports broadcaster for a radio station in Big Spring, Texas.
It was there that Ruiz met Bonner, who eventually convinced him to move to Roswell and begin working for KBIM. Bonner had taken the general manager position for the station and asked if Ruiz would join him to do sports.
“Kevin has the magic behind him. He has the magic touch to turn radio stations around. He brings in the right people to make that happen.”
Ruiz started in 2008, just before the station switched from oldies to play country music.
“People hated it. They hated it. I don’t know how much hate email we got,” Ruiz said.
The station introduced “B and the Breakfast Club” just prior to the move. The Breakfast Club, being the listening audience, plays a big part in the morning show. Ruiz often shares stories about his everyday life.
“It’s not a politically correct show. It hasn’t been from the beginning. People like that. They like honesty,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz has covered sports and news since he began with the station. Broadcasting is in his blood and he doesn’t intend to ever quit again, Ruiz said.
“You know what? That’s what I’m going to keep doing until my final resting place. Until the final day I turn off the microphone.”