Even if Whitlock hadn't known Willie's reputation, the Kansas City Star columnist should have been wary when the frequent caller to his afternoon radio show, The Doghouse, began singing in a redneck drawl to the tune of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line."
"I keep my zipper wide open all the time," Willie sang. "Arrested for performing an indecent crime."
Another host might have cut off Willie at that moment. For the local horde that finds Kansas City sports-talk radio so absorbing, there was no question who was being attacked in Willie's joke.
The target was Kevin Kietzman, Whitlock's former colleague and boss at WHB 810. And Willie's song was just the latest version of an urban legend that Whitlock himself had helped perpetuate -- that late one night, Prairie Village police stopped Kietzman while he was driving home from an 810 function and caught him, literally, with his pants down.
In the version spread by Whitlock and his listeners, Kietzman, caught in a compromising position with a young coworker, barged out of his car with his pants around his ankles and berated police, asking them repeatedly whether they knew who he was.
"My family's broken and in a state of disgrace, 'cause I left a stain on some poor girl's face," Willie crooned.
Whitlock roared with laughter.
Problem is, the story's not true.
On the night of January 10, 2002, Prairie Village police did indeed pull Kietzman over. But that's about all that the song -- and the other stories -- have right.
"He was not in any act," says Lt. Wes Jordan of the Prairie Village Police Department. "He wasn't naked. His pants weren't around his ankles. He was given a field sobriety test to be sure he was OK, and he was."
Kietzman drove off without even getting a ticket.
But in Willie's song, Kietzman ends up passing out at a casino. Willie's tune finishes on a strange note, suggesting that Whitlock himself has taken advantage of Kietzman's subsequent marital split-up by moving into the Kietzmans' bed.
Chuckling hard, he asked Willie to sing the song again. So Willie gave his first-ever encore performance.
On a more recent afternoon, Whitlock erupted in paroxysms of laughter again when another caller told an elaborate joke about Kietzman that eventually implied that his rival host was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the owner of the world's smallest penis.
An hour later, Whitlock was still chuckling. "We've got to have him tell that joke again," he said.
Sometimes, listening to Whitlock's afternoon radio show, it's hard to reconcile the program's oafish and tired routines -- fart jokes and blow-job references -- with the man who has made himself one of the most recognizable faces in Kansas City.
The former college football player who has transformed himself into a nationally known columnist today finds himself in an enviable position. Influential sportswriter. Daily radio host. Frequent guest on national television shows. Sought-after endorser of local charity events.
But after helping to transform a staid sports section into a caustic battlefield through righteous name-calling and smart blame-placing, Whitlock's writing recently has grown flabby as his various radio feuds have taken up more of his time. Which got two sports-obsessed writers to wonder about Whitlock: How did a sports columnist become one of Kansas City's biggest celebrities?