Ron Thulin knew Jack Mildren only casually less than a year ago, when executives at WWLS approached him about the two working together.
Late Thursday, when Thulin learned he'd lost his radio sidekick, he said he'd also lost a dear friend.
"I loved him,” said Thulin, who co-hosted the 3-6 p.m. sports talk show on Jox 930. "This is really tough. It's tough because he loved his family more than anything in the world. He loved Janis more than anything in the world.
"And in the short time we've been together, he really taught me what's important, that it's your family that's the most important thing in your life.”
Thulin said one particularly special bond of family is what makes Mildren's death so distressing.
"Jack was so proud of his grandson, (Jake),” Thulin said. "I'll be honest with you, that's what tears me up. He used to tell me that, ‘I want to be around to watch my grandson play football.' When he'd say it, you could hear he'd get a little choked up.
"That's what's tearing me up, that was his goal, to beat this, so he could watch his grandson play football.”
Less than a year ago, Thulin and Mildren were brought together in a chance pairing as WWLS expanded its lineup to feature a second station of sports talk radio.
Thulin, a former local television sportscaster, said he'd known Mildren only from covering Oklahoma football and occasional interviews. Then came a call and an idea to put them together, pulling Mildren away from similar duties on the Sports Animal.
"I flew up there and Jack and I went out to lunch,” Thulin said. "And we hit it off immediately.
"We had the same values in life. We had the same faith. We both wanted to do it because we thought it'd be fun.