Photo History of Utica AM RadioAudioClips History of Utica AM RadioVideo History of Utica AM Radio

One of the most underrated radio-TV celebrities to appear on the local broadcasting scene was a young, personable young male person named Bob Earle. From Baldwin, Long Island, Bob came to Utica to attend the Mohawk College, a state college started on the grounds of the former Rhodes Hospital on Burrstone Road. The school was not in business for long. So Bob decided to enroll in Utica College of Syracuse University majoring in Liberal Arts. He gained employment at WIBX radio, was hired by Walt Griswold, a veteran employee at WIBX.

Bob Earle was a handsome cuss. How many times I would walk with Bob on Genesee Street, cross the Busy Corner. As young females approached, I could see their eyes darting in the direction of Bob. But his heart was won over by Marion Hanna, sister of former Mayor of Utica Ed Hanna, sister of Mike Hanna, who had been employed by WIBX as a production director at WIBX. In fact, it was Mike Hanna’s idea of producing a public service program called "The Kiwanis Roundtable of the Air", heard once weekly on the station. Among the guests included a young Rocco De Perno, who was to become a prominent labor leader in the USA; Dan T Burke, local attorney as well as other community thought leaders. Mike Hanna left Utica to accept employment as manager of Cornell University’s Radio facility in Ithanca, WHCU, a CBS affiliate.

Bob worked with me at Radio Station WKAL in Rome, New York. He started a program for kids called "The Kiddie Korner" which featured 78 RPM albums of children’s stories; it became one of the most popular radio programs in the area. Bob also became general manager of WLFH, Little Falls. Bob was also hired as News Annoucer at WKTV, Utica. Always on the cutting edge, Bob conceived the idea of pre-recording the newscast, waring a hearing device in his ear so as to emulate the network news anchors. The audio tape playback machne was kept out of sight of the TV camera. The Network anchors could afford Teleprompters, WKTV was not on the cutting edge so Bob improvised. Some of the engineers at WKTV played practical jokes by slowing the tape machine which caused Bob Earle to become off-balance.

It was Bob who convinced me to attend Utica College. While the Mutual Network provided network service to WKAL, Bob and I would become involved in deep, philosophical discussions. He recommended that I might be interested in doing more research by taking courses at Utica College, which I did. College attendance was never part of my plan but here I was, a UC student at the Oneida Square campus. After accruing many, many hours of college credits, I decided to matriculate, take additional required courses and earned a BA degree from Utica College. I owe it all to Bob Earle.

Bob’s crowning achievement was when he read an item in a trade journal that announced Allen Ludden was leaving as host of the GE College Bowl TV program. Leave it to Bob to concoct an idea to put him again on the cusp. He was able to obtain a tape of the College Bowl program. He deleted all the parts which showed Ludden and replaced him with Bob's own image; he had pre-taped those parts. The executives the General Electric Corporation, sponsors of the program, bought into the idea and so Bob Earle was hired to replace Allen Ludden as host of the GE College Bowl TV network program.

I recently sent an E-mail to Bob, who now resides in Ithaca, New York, with the question, "Where in the world is Bob Earle" His reply was:

I might be able to tell a thing or two {Mike Hanna was "Mr. Wise" in Utica on WIBX and owner Scott Howe Bowen, the guy who invented spot radio advertising*, told him if you're so smart can you run this radio station of mine? Mike said sure but he wasn't there long. Cornell wanted him. So he went to Ithaca.}

* In those days, the FCC required a 30 second break between programs... [it may have been a minute originally] It was set aside so stations could identify themselves. Bowen figured, golly it takes only two or three seconds to say WIBX UTICA, let's go out and sell the other seconds. Ergo: spot b'casting launched.

Walt Griswald hired me to work evenings on WIBX-FM in September of 1946 -- an even 60 years ago as we speak -- Elliott [how do you spell Elliott] Stewart was manager; Bob Mahaney was chief announcer. I spun 78 rpm acetate records of symphonies every night, sequeing from one turntable to another for 45 minutes or so.

Did I tell you about the night we carried the Air Force Band concert from Bolling Field VA? It was the first FM NETWORK! And Major Armstrong (FM Inventor) called on the phone. Mahaney came over into the FM studio and said " It's for you. Some guy named Major Armstrong." [He never heard of Armstrong,] I thought he was pulling my leg so I didn't go answer. After about 5 minutes Mahaney came back over and said Aren't you going to answer?" I nearly keeled over. I rushed over to the AM side and picked up the phone. He said how's it sound? I Said just dandy Major. He said he was calling all 8 of the stations in the network. First FM Net ever.

Aside from that, there's not much — except maybe that I spoke the first announcement of the sign - on of WKTV [CH 13 then] on Decenber 1,1949, and aired live news at 6 and 11 and did live 30 sec commercials between net pgms .... Lotta stories. The furrier who did a live fashion show of his stuff and one night promoted a beautiful "Four-skin scarf" ... Joe Casaletta the cameraman choked out loud laughing. But you aren't interested in TV... just radio. ... stuff like the WIBX Saturday 11:00 pm remote "Dancing under the stars to the music of Chuck Foster and the orchestra ... at some remote ballfield down the valley ..../announcing each number. just like in the early days of remote radio. Mike Sandy doing play-byplay of Blue Sox games Oh My God it's a home run! [when opposing team hit one] ... and asking the local priest at a fire in his church if they had managed to save any other sacreligious items.... and peeing in the sink in the newsroom. but I guess you don't need all of them, Lou, do you. After all, I worked at WIBX only from September 1946 until the end of summer in 1947 when I went back down to my hometown of Baldwin Long Island to spend a semester at Adelphi College [Art Brown later became president there.] When I came back up to Utica, and started at Utica College in Spring term 1948 I worked at Griffiss AFB and WKAL for a year or so until moving over to tv at WKTV December 1949.. Pretty dull story after all. You have your work cut out for you -- doing the editing of anything I write.

You never thought you had a voice that sounded like Robert Taylor the movie actor but I did. I always thought it was one of the best I ever heard.

Site by IMPROCOMM    © Copyright 2010 — Utica AM Radio Web. All rights reserved.