Hi, I´m Bob Smith, and for what seemed like such a short time (fall 1973 to summer 1974) I was afternoon drive news guy at WHEN, working mostly on the Jack Mindy show (although my shift spilled into Mike Andrews´ and later John Simmons´ evening show). Got hired by Bob Ashton, who was then ND, but he left for a PR gig at GE and most of my time was spent working under, and learning from, a guy who´s become a legend in Central NY broadcasting, Rod Wood. We had a great collection of people in the newsroom not only Rod (who doubled as ND and morning newscaster before he jumped to Channel 9 and became Central NY´s top news anchor) but Marc Levinson, Chuck Webster, Kurt Barnhart, Ray Day, and future ABC News top production honcho Betsy West. Got lots of memories of covering stories and breaking a few, but mostly memories of a team of really talented people on and off mike. It was a thrill and privilege to work with them and it all ended too soon when my graduate studies (and prep for an upcoming masters´ exam) at Cornell got seriously in the way. I just couldn´t juggle the job and the schoolwork any more. Cornell won out.
But I knew one day I´d be back in the business. Got my doctorate in American history from Cornell in May of 1977, and it wasn´t long (later that summer) before I was back in radio, this time at WKBW in Buffalo doing street reporting and weekend anchoring. Then it was a few months on morning drive news at WAXC in Rochester, followed by a return to Buffalo for several years more as news anchor on Jeff Kaye´s morning show at WBEN. (Crossed paths there once again with Jack Mindy as well - he was WBEN´s afternoon drive personality for more than a decade starting in 1978.) Took a few years off from radio in the mid-80s when my dad needed me in the family business in Rochester, but after he passed away, we sold the business and the building off and I went back on the air to stay. For the last 24 years I´ve been doing my own daily early afternoon talk and interview show on news/talker WXXI-AM 1370 in Rochester.
Never enjoyed a gig so much as the one I´m doing now in my home town, getting to talk about whatever issues float to the top of the news agenda with thousands of people every day (not to mention interviewing guests ranging from Hillary Clinton to the controversial Mark Fuhrman of O.J. Simpson case fame). Might never have gotten the chance, though, without all the experience and preparation that began when I got to work with, and learn from, the team at WHEN ...a truly major-market quality station and a trendsetter in the business, one of the pioneers of full service adult contemporary radio in America.
That´s my story, can´t wait to read everyone else´s.
Ed. Note: Update - Aug. 2013 - Bob Smith, longtime host of WXXI-AM radio’s 1370 Connection talk show, will not return to the air.
According to a news release from the station, Smith suffered a stroke in April and is in long-term rehabilitative care. A fixture on the public broadcasting station for more than 25 years, Smith’s interviews were wide-ranging. He interviewed national figures including Hillary Clinton, Philip Roth, B.B. King and many local leaders.
“Bob’s incredible wealth of knowledge and curiosity of many varied topics made him such an engaging talk show host,” said WXXI President Norm Silverstein in a news release. “His dedication to the program has made 1370 Connection essential to the Rochester community for more than 25 years.”