I remember my first real introduction to talk radio was as a pre-teen, listening to 1370 WSPD-AM in Toledo.
They carried a syndicated national talk show weeknights called "Talknet", where various hosts took calls and gave advice on anything from marriage, to money, to life in general.
I remember one of the "Talknet" hosts went on to have her own tabloid TV show, and her name was Sally-Jessie Raphael.
The calm soothing tones of one Bruce Williams I remember vividly, and one night, when he said "let's go to Gibsonburg, Ohio" for a call, I almost jumped out of my skin. Someone from my little old one traffic light town had made it though to a national radio show to talk to Bruce Williams!
“Welcome my friends, welcome to my world.”
It was with those words radio talk show host legend Bruce Williams began his nationally syndicated show for more than 29 years.
Williams died on Saturday (2/9), at his home near Tampa, FL after a brief illness.
Spanning a career that lasted more than three decades, Bruce Williams created a loyal listenership of hundreds of thousands of people strong with his informative and entertaining program, delivered in his signature deep, warm, welcoming voice.
But, one of the most unusual and remarkable facts surrounding Williams’ National Radio Hall of Fame career is that it did not begin until he was well into his 40s.
Born February 18, 1932, Williams grew up in East Orange, NJ.
Blessed with an innate sense of business, at age 11, he devised a way to address one of the many shortages common at the end of World War II by melting down lead pipes and casting them into toy soldiers. Eyes wide open, he was off and running, pursuing every avenue where he believed a profit could be made.
After serving in the US Air Force during the Korean conflict and graduating from Newark State College (now Kean University), he opened a pre-school named after his children.
He spent time driving an ice cream truck in New York City. He was also a taxi driver and drove a beer truck.
For 70 years of his life, he spent the holiday season selling Christmas trees in New Jersey.On the white-collar side, Williams sold insurance, owned a flower shop, a car rental agency, a barber shop and he owned and operated several nightclubs.
His outstanding career began in 1975 at WCTC 1450 Talk Radio, The Voice of Central New Jersey, where Williams hosted a show called “At Your Service.”
After some time, his success took him to WMCA, New York where his momentum and audience continued to build. Williams’ growing popularity brought him to the attention of radio executives at NBC who were searching for a host of a national nightly advice-oriented talk show.
After a long selection process, Williams was chosen and his program launched in November of 1981. It was from this platform, his reputation as a broadcaster blossomed.
Bruce Williams was 81 years old when he hung up his head phones for the final time in 2013, signing off as he always did by saying, “Keep in touch.”