From my first day in kindergarten until my last day of high school, it was not just my mother who got my brothers and me up and out of the house every morning. Stan Neuberger helped. Stan did the morning show on WEKZ, the radio station in my hometown of Monroe, Wisconsin. When he began to read the local news, we knew we’d better be getting dressed by then. Ten minutes later, when he started reading the sports, we’d better be having breakfast. Five minutes after that, he’d introduce Earl Nightingale’s five-minute commentary “Our Changing World,” and we’d better be ready to catch the bus by the time it was over. The routine was so precise and regular that there was no need to look at the clock—a radio lesson I never forgot.
I met Stan a time or two during my brief flirtation with WEKZ in 1976, but I never got to work with him. Nevertheless, he influenced me. By the time I reached my 30s, and I after had abandoned the fantasy of working in a big market, I began to think that the best of all possible radio jobs might be “21st Century Stan”—to be the morning guy on WEKZ myself, waking up the farmers and the school kids, thereby completing the circle that had begun when I was a kid. What an honorable calling, to be such an integral part of so many lives.
Stan answered that calling all his life. After he officially retired, he continued to host a few programs at WEKZ, even after a stroke changed the familiar sound of his voice, because that’s what old radio guys do. At WEKZ, he was one of the oldest—he was an original employee of the station, having come there as program director when it went on the air in July of 1951. And last week, Stan died at age 86. His funeral is today.
They aren’t making radio men like that anymore, but their impact is forever. Those of us still in the business, who try each day to do our best, who try to have a positive impact on the people who tune in, are standing on the shoulders of radio men like that.
Shameless Self-Promotion Department: I am trying mightily to tweet everything I write over at WNEW.com, but I am not always able to do it in a timely fashion. So if you are interested in my daily Rock Flashback posts (some of which I’m quite proud of), click here. On Tuesdays I write something called “Five Things About . . .”, which you can find here. I’ll be adding yet another feature at WNEW.com within a few weeks. More about that one when the time comes.