To the many of you who have gotten to know me over these past 13 years, you have come to know how important radio is to me. In fact I seldom watch TV and would much rather to listen to my favorite programs or streaming music over the internet (and occasionally on traditional AM / FM dials). For those of you who have become acquainted with me more recently…..you may be surprised to know that my favorite radio programs ARE NOT political, but consumer advice shows instead. For more than 20 years, I have listened to the nationally syndicated Bruce Williams program and for the past several years I have been a faithful listener of the Tom Martino Troubleshooter Show out of Denver, CO. These two programs have been constants in my turbulent life.
A lot of my dreams in life, my desire to be an entrepreneur, my interest in the fields of business and law — stem from me listening to Bruce Williams as a little boy — a 9 year old — after weeknight Red Sox games on WTIC 1080 here in Hartford. Over the past 10 years, local stations around the country have dropped Bruce in favor of either political or highly bizarre programming. It’s been a good 5 years since Bruce has been on WTIC, but I have picked him up live on the Internet or on Podcast (tape-delay) often since then.
I am listening to Bruce’s last show right now, as I type. Tears have welled up in my eyes. Mr. Williams was like a radio-father to me. Below I have pasted Friday’s article from the Tampa Tribune recognizing Bruce’s lengthy career in the business. Before Rush, there was Bruce. He and Sally Jessy Raphael were the first daytime nationally syndicated hosts in the country — starting back in the Fall of 1981.
From TBO.com, Tampa Tribune 03/05/2010
By TOM JACKSON
“Tried to talk about it, but I broke down,” Williams says. “Had to go straight to commercial.”
Tonight, who knows? Tonight, from a converted upstairs bedroom overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in his Gulf Harbors home, Williams broadcasts – presumably – his last show, shutting down a broadcasting career that spans five decades. “Every time a door closes, another one opens somewhere,” he says, “but I’d say this is probably it.”
Already, those most closely affiliated with Williams’ program (with the notable exception of Williams himself) are operating on the razor’s edge between denial and outright blubbering.
“You should have seen me typing the (announcement) letter to the affiliates,” says longtime aide Beth Richards, who runs Williams’ “Media Personalities” office in New Port Richey. “I couldn’t stop crying. It was awful.”
Understandably so. Tonight’s dimming of the AM dial results from a sudden and measurable loss of intelligence and savvy. The promo that used to run on a former local affiliate still applies:Bruce Williams – he knows more than you do.
Nonetheless, things have grown increasingly rocky for Williams’ brand of thoughtful advice-spreading. He’d been all but squeezed off satellite radio after the Sirius-XM merger, and his affiliate stations hovered in the mid-80s.
As recently as 1999, his affiliates numbered about 400, and it wasn’t unusual for stations to air an instant rerun of his three-hour live show, for which long-haul truckers and certain exhausted fathers driving their families home from Disney World sent up silent hallelujahs. Williams could make no-load mutual funds sound exciting, and his takedowns of knuckleheads who got “upside down” on their personal vehicles, owed more than the car was worth, were livelier than double shots of espresso.
The opinion was widespread. At the height of his popularity, Williams’ show was being aired somewhere in the world 24 hours a day.
Head of the class
Before there was Rush, there was Bruce Williams. Before there was Sean, before there was Glenn, before there was Laura or Mike or Randi or Neal or Howard … and way before there was Schnitt, there was Bruce Williams, coast to coast.
This is not to endorse the implied leap –post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after this, then because of this). A failure of logic is, after all, a failure of logic; fans of his long-running radio show know, above all, Williams rejects such sloppy thinking.
For nearly 35 years, callers guilty of the same have endured the brunt of the host’s tough, if sympathetic, love: “I don’t mean to pick on you, tiger,” he says, and the fun begins.
But if, as history reports, Rush Limbaugh saved AM radio with his mix of conservative politics and irreverent shtick, it was only after Williams had plainly identified the abundance of unmined gold remaining on the dial even after the music and music listeners fled to FM. Then again, locating and exploiting underappreciated opportunities has been the hallmark of Williams’ professional career.
Turn, turn, turn
Who else would have thought to buy up whole warehouses of old newspapers that were slated for the landfill as major and medium dailies turned increasingly to microfiche? Well, somebody else may have thought about it, but it was Williams who pulled the trigger. Now he’s pretty much monopolized the souvenir newspaper industry.
Similarly, arriving at the dawn of the modern information age, Williams demonstrated how listeners could be attracted to talk-based programming that presented hosts who were knowledgeable, nimble and engaging. Williams’ expertise – business, finance, entrepreneurism – presented with unfailing decorum in his clipped New Jersey accent, delivered whopping numbers of listeners who, importantly, also paid attention to commercials.
That was then. The edginess that marks the angry divide between the political left and right is today, and Williams, who still prefers giving expert guidance on practical matters, was either unable, or unwilling, to grow quills.
“This was coming to an end whether I liked it or not,” Williams says, waxing ecclesiastical. “Everything is in its own time. Everything comes to an end.”
A tsunami of e-mail swelled from the Richter-rattling announcement that went out to his affiliate stations and was posted on his Web site, a welter of correspondence from around the globe that reminded him how much has changed since that first Sunday afternoon in May 1975 when he debuted on a single Philadel
“So many ways to listen now,” he says. “Computers, iPhones. It’s amazing.”
For the addicted, brucewilliams.com, offering archived listening, will remain active for at least another six months. After that? “I’m not making any decisions anytime soon,” he says, following his own advice: “Act in haste, repent at leisure. I’m not doing that.”
Instead, along with wife Susan and the Boston terriers, Pistol and Biscuit, Williams means to find out “what regular people do” between 7 and 10 p.m. most weeknights. Besides yell at their televisions. Not to worry. “I’ll find something to do,” he tells friends. “I’m not going to die sitting on the couch.”
For the determined prospector, there’s always another mine full of gold … if you know where, and how, to look.
Thanks for all of the memories Bruce….