Former WFLR Radio News Director Dies

A former WFLR News Director has passed. Robert "Bob" Penrod, 73 of Brooksville passed away August 27, 2013. He was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1940. He is remembered fondly by many long-time WFLR listeners.

Bob was in radio for 55 years. He started at 18 and ended as a part-time talk show host Mondays from 1:00-3:00 pm, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1:00-2:00 pm on 1450 WWJB-AM in Brooksville. He did Big Band & Jazz Shows for 38 years, which was heard on Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00 on WWJB.

 



He was an announcer, his original career love, for about 30 years, both as a disc jockey in many different formats, and a newsman, as he worked his way upward in the business in seven different communities in Upstate New York. He was hired after only 10 years in the business by his favorite Rochester, NY radio station, the 50,000 watt, clear channel 1180 WHAM. It was heard over 13 counties days and at night was in 38 states.

When Bob was hired by WHAM, he first did news at night and later became their morning newsman, doing four 15 minute newscasts. As a teenager, this was a station that he thought had 10 of the best radio announcers he has yet heard today and he wanted to be one of them. He made it at 28 years old.

How did he get started in the broadcasting business? In the local radio station in his hometown of Penn Yan, NY when his favorite disc jockey, Bob Burns, who did the 3:00-6:00 pm shift on WHAM in Rochester, quit and moved to Penn Yan to become the local station general manager. It was like Mickey Mantle moving to your hometown. Bob Burns joined the local Kiwanis Club, which had a program where seniors in high school could go to the club weekly luncheon several times and sit next to someone in a business they were interested in. Guess who Bob Penrod sat next to and who hired him to his very first radio job?

Bob was given a 5:00-6:00 am show and told to wake up local people and help attract them to hear the regular morning crew who started at 6:00 am and went to 10:00. He thought he knew everything there was to know about radio at 18. But he soon came to realize that he had been given the 5:00-6:00 am show to be able to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them, and nobody but local dairy farmers and the cows they were milking ever heard him.
After a few months, he was given a regular daytime shift.

After he had been a radio announcer in New York State for about 20 years, things changed in 1978 when several local businessmen in his hometown who owned the radio station, bought WWJB in Brooksville. That station was struggling. They offered the general manager's job to Bob. He accepted it, put together a very good staff and really got into the new job. He worked 10-12 hours a day, met with every local business and community group and vowed to help them be successful. Many gave back to the station. Advertising was doubled in the first year, meeting a goal that gave him 18 per cent ownership in the station.

Four years later, WWJB was sold to the present owners and Bob went back to New York State to manage and make successful two more radio stations over the next 17 years.

Bob met his wife, Shirley, in college in 1958 and they fell in love. They were married 52 1/2 years. He is survived by two children, a daughter, Suzanne McAlpine, who works in the office for the Hernando County Sheriff's Department, and a son, Dan, who lives in Portland, OR. Between them, they have given Shirley and I four grand children; Richard, Katlyn, Breanna, Tristan.

Shirley was an elementary school teacher for close to 25 years. They both retired from their long careers when they were 62 in 2002......she as a teacher and me as a radio station general manager. They had come back to Brooksville to see their kids three times a year since they first left in 1982, so they knew it well and loved it. They wanted to get out of the New York snow, cold and gray skies all Winter and they moved back to Brooksville.

But Bob didn't really retire fulltime. Steve Manuel offered him a job in the station and, after several months, he accepted three days a week, a couple of hours each day. It's been going on for 10 years now. Bob loves people and has helped thousands of local residents through his many interesting guests who include people in private business, government, school, law enforcement, medical and community groups.

Bob has liked real and model trains since he was a little kid and has belonged to the Citrus Model Railroad Club since 2005. The 35 or so members are building a new HO and N gauge layout in their building at the Citrus County Fairgrounds south of Inverness. On top of that, the members operate and help each other build layouts at their homes.

Bob had some health challenges that came up over the last year. He remained positive, exercised many times a week and kept active every day. His great wife and family were solidly behind him, along with his wonderful fitness instructor and massage therapist, and hundreds of wonderful friends.

Let this be your invitation to Celebrate the Life of Bob on Friday, September 6th from 5-7 p.m. with a Memorial Service to follow at 7 p.m. at the Brooksville Chapel of Brewer & Sons Funeral Home.

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