Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Finan Followup

Tributes to local broadcast legend Joe Finan continue to pour in, after his death earlier today at the age of 79.

Finan's last broadcast home, Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio", has posted audio of his last program on the station on October 10th on the page we linked earlier. There are also pictures of Finan during his debut broadcast, and at various station remotes.

And as we saw before with the death of another local broadcast icon, WSLR/1350 morning star Jaybird Drennan, the Northeast Ohio broadcast community has once again reached behind "competitive lines" to share news of another prominent voice being stilled by death.

Rubber City Radio's AkronNewsNow (WAKR/WQMX/WONE) has its own tribute page to a host who never even had any connection with any of the company's three Akron stations. It has audio from WARF, a link to a story by WKYC news anchor Dick Russ with an excellent timeline of Finan's career, and even a link to, umm, the item below this one on OMW.

It's a line on that AkronNewsNow page, written by WAKR/1590 program director Chuck Collins with help from Rubber City news director Ed Esposito, that jumped out at us tonight.

Finan is the third northeast Ohio broadcast legend to pass away in the past three months; WSLR morning great Jaybird Drennan passed away a week and a half ago and WTAM sports anchor Casey Coleman died November 27 after a heroic battle with pancreatic cancer.

Wow. They really do "happen in threes", don't they?

Since late last month, Northeast Ohio has lost three voices that were really a vital part of the fabric of the local broadcast community.

We understand that hosts on the talk station which employed Finan for nearly 20 years in afternoon drive, WNIR/100.1, talked about his passing today. In fact, just this evening, we heard WNIR evening host Tom Erickson reading a bit from our very own item just below this.

With all the tributes, we're reminded of some of the things we didn't remember about Joe Finan. We knew he was a popular DJ "back in the day" at AM top 40 stations in Cleveland (WIXY/1260, WHK/1420, KYW/1100), and you certainly couldn't forget his role in the payola scandal.

But we'd forgotten that he was considered Ohio's first on-camera TV weatherman, at the station then known as WNBK/4 (now NBC affiliate WKYC/3).

Not everyone "liked" Joe Finan. We think Joe would be the first to admit to it...he didn't rub everyone the right way, at least in "public".

But we're particularly affected by some of the private things Joe did well away from the spotlight. As an admitted recovering alcoholic, Joe watched out for those having the same troubles. From our comment page on the earlier item:

While working with Joe at 1350, he would take the telephone numbers from callers off the air that had issues with alcohol. He would spend his off hours in the evening helping people by just being a friend on the phone. I can't even tell you how many thank you calls we took off the air from people who were helped by Joe Finan.

And then there's this comment, which shows how Joe mentored aspiring broadcasters. It's from Mason Meyer, a former WNIR staffer who once hosted the weekend editions of a station staple, "The Dating Show":

My first meeting with was Joe the day after Clinton got elected in 1992. I had no idea what to expect and wasn't much interested in talk radio. He brought me into the station after he signed off the air and we talked for nearly three hours. Here's a guy who has been in broadcasting forever, worked with the greats, had no reason to sit with a snot-nosed kid who maybe wanted to get into radio after his 4 hour show.

Joe was always there. A few rough times in my life I needed a friend at 3AM and his door was always open. He really loved people and was one of the most giving individuals I've ever known. He has made a huge impression on my life and for that alone I thank him.

What's the line? Something about doing things when no one is looking?

That'd appear to describe one Joe Finan, an irascible old guy who thought to do good deeds and reach out to his fellow man when no one was keeping track.

Joe? We're keeping track, now...



WWWEis3WE said...

i listened to the last brodacst link from WARF.. well i picked out various parts on the mp3 or whatever it is called.. and especially the last part.

bad editing job.. seemed to end in the middle of a call..

no comments about his last day on 1350

did joe make an announcment that day?

Denise in Akron said...

One day when Joe was on the radio, as a result of a newspaper expose on a family with triplet boys with autism, he invited a mother with such a child to call into the station on the air to share her experience. I was that mother. After that, Joe became a compassionate friend who always showed an interest in my son and our lives, both on and off the air.

I had not spoken with Joe since his leaving WNIR, but his number was programmed into my cell phone. My 13 month old grandson loves to play with my cell phone and hit the speed dial for Joe's phone JUST THIS PAST MONDAY. My daughter saw the name on the phone and said, "Who's Joe Finan?" I grabbed the phone and apologized for my grandbaby hitting his number. We shared a nice conversation and caught up on both our lives.

While it was so good to talk to him as always, I could not have imagined then the poignant meaning that accidental call would have to me today.

Joe did truly care for those whose lives had challenges. I wish more people could have seen this softer side.

My life has been blessed because Joe chose to share his kind heart to me and my son with autism.

Anonymous said...

I listened to WNIR this morning and I wasn’t surprised by what I heard. The morning crew were still making old man jokes. Stan sounded as if he was attempting to be respectful when discussing the passing of Joe Finan, there was no sincerity there.
At one point a caller went on the air and exclaimed gleefully “Christmas Game Early this year”. Stan, Steve, & Maggie mumbled that’s not funny. Okay partial credit for the effort, but rather than disconnecting a rude caller, Stan then allowed the caller to sing “Ding Dong The Liberals Dead, Ding Dong the Liberals Dead”. Again, Stan, Steve, & Maggie mumbled that’s not funny, and again they failed to disconnect the call. The third zinger came when the caller said he grew tired of Joe saying health care should be equal to everyone. He said “Where he is, health care if equal”. Finally they hung up, suppressing laughter.

Bill and Bob, classy place you’re running over there.

Anonymous said...

I am conservative, had difficult with Joe's liberal ideals. However, I listened to Joe for 20 years during his tenure at WNIR and I even caught his show during his last month on the am dial. I called Joe's show once in a while and I definitely learned a great deal from Joe. Here is what I remember the most: Once I was worried about a situation and Joe told me this: "90% of what we worry about never happens and the 10% that actually happens...we can handle."

I too heard Stan this morning. Stan entertained the caller that sang "Christmas Game Early this year" and "Ding Dong The Liberal's Dead". That moron that called in has no class, and I cannot find the humor as Stan did.

Anonymous said...

With this latest show of poor taste and disrespect for a broadcast legend, NIR one again lays claim to the title of being a total embarrassment to radio broadcasting. They win the title and deservedly so.

As most of the pros in the business will tell you NIR is, has been, and always will be, barely a cut above small market radio.

Oh yeah. I though Piatt had a lot more class than that.

Shame for shame.

The Kaiser said...

WNIR Is a great station for a college station!

Anonymous said...

They sound awefully amature I agree. But how do you argue with #1 in the ratings and the #1 Akron radio station revenue biller? Can't say they don't have competition. WHLO, WARF, WTAM, WHK, WKSU, WKNR are all talking away.

Bizarre? Yes. Successful? Yes.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn’t bash Stan because of some insensitive callers; remember that it doesn't take an I.Q. over 60 to dial a phone. I wouldn't call Stan and Joe the best of friend but remember that Stan organized/held the Finan Roast when Joe retired.
Did everyone here forget that Finan came out of retirement and bashed WNIR and its owners who kept him employed despite dismal ratings?
Did everyone forget that Joe was unceremoniously fired from 1350 a few months before he died due mostly to dismal ratings/listener demand?
Where were all the Joe Lovers/WNIR Stan/Howie/Golig haters when Joe needed you?

I’ve been listening to WNIR for over 20 years (from 6AM-8PM) Joe provided me with plenty of ammunition to counter arguments made by liberal pseudo-intellectuals who didn't understand math, physics and economics and regurgitated junk from Blogs. For that I thank Joe.

Joe, where ever you are; I hope you found the happiness you didn't find while you were here.

Now a zinger: Joe just found out that GOD is a republican.