WHEN Radio had a long tradition of providing an eye-in-the-sky flying traffic reporter starting with the first, F. Sam Hall in the early 70s, followed by Captain Gordon (Spooner), and then by Captain Scott King (Tony Bombardo) in 1977. The Captain's traffic reporting career spanned over three decades, although in those later years he provided reports to stations other than WHEN, and under his own name due to the trademark issue mentioned below. In 2010 Tony retired from the airways, his last reports were aired during the morning newscasts on WIXT-Channel 9.
Captain Scott King came to WHEN Radio in the fall of 1977, replacing Captain Gordon who had departed for the Air National Guard and a chance to fly jets. Tony Bombardo was one of several prospective candidates to vie the priviledge of flying "The Spirit of Syracuse" for the station. All candidates went through the process of on-air auditions over the course of a couple weeks. The field of prospects was finally narrowed to the winning candidate, Tony Bombardo who was to fly the station's Piper Cherokee as Captain Scott King. Note: The station never flew a helicopter for traffic reports though listeners often thought otherwise. Shortly after Tony's hiring, it was decided by corporate that the moniker "Captain Scott King" should be trademarked to prevent any other station in the U.S. from using it for flying traffic reporter identification. Shortly thereafter, listeners began hearing announcements on-air to the effect that the name was to become a trademark of Park Broadcasting. Unfortunately, the verbatim text of that announcement has long gone.
In the late 70s and into the 80s Captain Scott King was one of the most recognizable personalities on WHEN's airwaves. He was, after all, a part of their daily commute in both the heavy morning and afternoon listening periods. Because of the extreme cost of keeping an airplane in the air for a minimum of 2 - 2½ hours in the morning and the same during the afternoon, WHEN went unchallenged and virtually ruled the Syracuse skies as far as Central New York commuters were concerned. WSYR made an attempt in the 80s when they hired a pilot by the name of Duke Brooks who was contracted with by the station to fly his helicopter during morning and afternoon drivetimes. To get their show on the road, the helicopter piloted by Brooks, while flying into Syracuse early one evening, "conveniently" had a low fuel warning light come on... and had to put it down. In a field you say? No.. How about in downtown Syracuse near Clinton Square where WSYR was located at the time? Of course the emergency landing of the newest traffic reporter in Syracuse got plenty of news coverage...excepting Newswatch 62 of course. Ahhh, the stuff of legendary radio battles. Now...about that bridge we'd like to sell you...
Right - Captain Scott King and Debbie Stoughtenger Fiorini renew old acquaintences.