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Old 03-02-2010, 12:39 PM   #1
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Bruce Williams Leaving Radio March 5th

I have to imagine that there are a lot of you who know of Bruce Williams.

While his presence on broadcast radio has been thinning of late, he has still been on the air in some places, and until this week, on XM /Sirius.

Bruce has decided to retire. I only heard about it last week.

Here is the letter he has to his listeners on his web site...

I have had many tasks in this life that were difficult, many rewarding, some frustrating but writing this letter is proving to be one of the most difficult for me personally, that I have ever faced.

Just under 35 years ago, May 14, 1975, I did my first radio talk show. Since that time I have worked with hundreds of people, had some marvelous experiences and some very difficult ones. This one is most difficult.

After a great deal of thought, I have concluded, as has been said many times, “all things come to an end”, and this is true for me of my radio career. As a consequence, it is my painful chore to announce with much regret that March 5th, will be my last Network broadcast. I’ve been assured by the people providing the satellite and other services that they will work with me to allow me to give this two weeks notice to all of our stations for which I am grateful. I am confident given the huge amount of offerings available that you will have no difficulty in finding a replacement for my program. Indeed, when this announcement becomes public, I am confident that you will be inundated by proposals. I will take this occasion to suggest that you will be adequately served by giving our affiliate relations person, Joe Sparra, who has worked very hard on my program for the past couple of years, a call (727-864-1125). I am confident that he will be able to arrange programming that will be satisfactory to you. He is a very competent and loyal guy.

If during the remaining two weeks you would like me to do a phoner with anyone of your local hosts, I will be very pleased to do so. If you have an ISDN line we can do it over the equipment if not a regular phone.

There have been enormous changes in our industry in the past 3 ½ decades. Those of you who have been in the business for a long period of time know full well many of the things to which I elude. Those of you running independent stations are more aware then anyone of the challenges you face. The last several years have been very difficult economically for most. There’s no question that there will be continued innovations in this enterprise and the choices are clear, adjust or leave.

You may rest assured that this was not a decision made lightly. I truly appreciate the difficulties it will impose on many of you. If it would be helpful, I will do my best to provide some older shows, which you may continue to use at no cost and without any commercial obligations. My office will remain open for several weeks in order to facilitate this change. Beth and Denise will cooperate and work with you in any way possible.

As most of you know we are hosting a mystery cruise on the 21st of next month. My moving on will not in any way affect the cruise. I’d appreciate it if you would assure your listeners of this. We will be writing to each of the folks going with us, assuring them that nothing will interrupt or take away from our cruise.

There are so many people and organizations that have contributed to our success. A thank you list would be extremely long. The problem is every list is an exclusion list and at the risk of forgetting and possibly offending a very important part of this history, I am going to say with one or two exceptions, a collective and a heart felt thank you must suffice. There have been so many of you who have been extremely gracious and loyal over the years. One person who I must mention is the guy who I still think of as the boss, the late Tony Marano, General Manager of WCTC in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Tony passed away some years ago. He was so gracious to me, a tough sell but nonetheless, gave me my very first shot 35 years ago and when I think of Tony, as I always will, in my mind Tony is “the boss”. A talented gracious man who played a major role in my life.

I have learned “never say never”. This moment is closing a chapter of my life, which has meant a great deal to me. I have no broadcast plans. This is not to say that if someone made an overture that I would automatically say no. Unlikely, but the door is never firmly closed.

A great many factors went into making this decision. I have agonized over it for some considerable period of time. The decision was not made lightly but I firmly believe it is the correct one. Over these 3 ½ decades I have been honored to have spent some time with you. At least for a few years I was number one in my profession, an honor that is accorded to very few. I was always grateful for being inducted into Bruce Dumont’s Radio Hall of Fame. These are little things that won’t matter very much in the long run but they surely mattered to me.

I was always sorry that my Pop wasn’t around during my radio years but he passed away well before I had a thought about radio. My mom saw it happen and there is solace in that.

Two weeks from today I will get up on Monday morning and find my newspapers on my coffee table as they have been for many years, provided by the thoughtfulness of my wife Susan. But that day will be a different experience in that I will be reading those papers with the same intensity and the same interest however, I’ll be reading them entirely because I want to read them not because it’s necessary to be prepared to do a program. Quite a change after 30 years.

Some exceptions have to be made to the mention of individuals. 25 years ago, it seems impossible it’s been that long, I decided to move my offices from New Brunswick, New Jersey to Florida, a move I have never regretted. Shortly after arriving, a young lady answered an advertisement to come and work in my office and a quarter of a century later Beth Richards is still with me, my most valuable assistant. I will not articulate all the things that she has had to contend with during her loyal service of a quarter of a century. About 10 years later another lady wandered in asking for employment possibilities and Denise Gambale is still with me. Another incredible help to my broadcast career and business life.

A little over 4 years ago I passed my bi-annual flight physical. I asked the flight instructor who was giving me my check ride to really give me a going over which he did. After 3 near perfect landings, he leaned over and said, “Mr. Williams you still know how to fly an airplane, congratulations. I thanked him, taxied my plane over to the hanger and have not flown an airplane since. I wanted to go out a winner. So it is in other of life’s decisions, one must determine when it’s time to hold and when to fold. Very difficult decisions. I believe both decisions were the right ones.

It is my firm intention to make this transition as seamless as is possible. I will make this as easy as I am able.

I intend to continue writing my column for United Features hopefully for several years in the future. I will be in touch with many of my listeners through the column.

And finally, my wonderful family. There have been two very gracious and intelligent ladies who had a profound influence on who I am and whatever it is I have become. The first my first wife, Ruthann, who was there from the beginning, supportive in every way. For this I am eternally grateful. Now there is my second spouse, Susan, who has had to put up with a grouchy senior citizen for these many years and has also been faultlessly supportive accepting my weaknesses and few strengths. Of course I cannot forget my five children, grandchildren and friends along the party line. I have been blessed with a wonderful family and through some miraculous providence, all things considered, very good health. I never expect to retire in the traditional sense. Some people look forward to sitting around the fireplace, playing golf, etc. That has never been my ambition. I enjoy working and will continue as long as I am physically capable. One door closes another door opens. I hope this is to be the case in this instance. To be continued…..
The man has had a profound influence on my life. I started listening to him when I was 20 years old, and while I have not heard him regularly in quite a few years, it is kind of a sad end to another chapter in my "book of life".

I am sure you will all join me in wishing him the best in the next chapter in his life!

Thank you Bruce!

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:37 PM   #2
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Mark... he has a great outlook on life and work - it is too bad that type of view is not as strong in today's young adults.
I am sure you are not alone with your feelings about Bruce William

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Old 03-09-2010, 04:02 PM   #3
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Anyone else listen to Bruce's last hour last Friday night?

I missed most of it, but did tune in to the last 15 minutes... Quite a show.

I have his last couple of weeks saved as podcasts, as well as that last show, so I will be able to listen to them at some point in the future.

Here is an article written by Tom Jackson from the Tampa (FL) Tribune. He visited with Bruce on Friday...

NEW PORT RICHEY - Only once before, in the industry-record 35 years of his nightly broadcast, has Bruce Williams' show been interrupted by tears. That was the night about a dozen years ago after he'd had his beloved Mickey - "The dog of all dogs," he says - put down.

"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 Philadelphia station.

"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.

Tom Jackson hosts "The Jax Files Weekend" at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WGUL, 860 AM.
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:42 PM   #4
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I have listened to Bruce Williams literally thousands of nights in my bed using ear buds. I sure hate to see him off the air.
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:56 PM   #5
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Man this really stinks. I've been listening to him for years, and I'm always delighted when I find (found) him on the radio.

1. We are losing one of the most informative, entertaining talk show hosts that have ever been.
2. I didn't get to catch his last show.
3. On top of all that, it reminds me that I'm getting older.

Best wishes to an old friend whom I never got to meet!
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dmiles View Post
Man this really stinks. I've been listening to him for years, and I'm always delighted when I find (found) him on the radio.

1. We are losing one of the most informative, entertaining talk show hosts that have ever been.
2. I didn't get to catch his last show.
3. On top of all that, it reminds me that I'm getting older.

Best wishes to an old friend whom I never got to meet!
Agreed on your point #1!

On #2... you are in luck! Many of his shows from the last couple of months are available on his web site as mp3 downloads, or podcasts (including his final show)... all free!

#3 on age? It sure beats the alternative!
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:20 PM   #7
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Another Era Ends

Hi Mark,
All of you are right. We are losing a radio great. We need more of this kind. He kept me company, during the late evening, on many road trips. It was great to find him again, and again, mile after mile, as I chased the radio dial. Best of luck to Bruce, he will be missed.


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