Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Joe Finan Passes Away

OMW has just learned that long-time Northeast Ohio broadcaster Joe Finan has passed away at the age of 79.

Finan, until earlier this year, was the midday talk host at Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron "Radio Free Ohio". But he's most known recently for his nearly 20 year stint in afternoon drive at talk WNIR/100.1 Kent "The Talk of Akron".

Long before any of this, Finan was a popular disk jockey in Cleveland, Denver and other cities.

OMW hears this afternoon that Finan was scheduled for surgery this morning, and unfortunately, did not make it through.

There is only word at this hour of a private family memorial. If there is word of any public gathering, we'll pass it along.

Finan's last home radio station, WARF, has posted about Finan's passing here.


Johnny Morgan said...

Katie, bar the door.

R.I.P., Joe.

Anonymous said...

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.

We won't forget you Joe!

Anonymous said...

Liked him, loved him , hated him, he was a true broadcasting legend. Anyone who worked with the likes of Alan Freed, Gary Dee, Don Imus, plus the music and record industry icons, deserves a little reflection. He was both a crusty hard-ass on the air as well as a man who really cared for others. He most certainly impacted my career and personal life and am glad to have known him.

He used to sign off of WNIR with a the blessing "May God hold you and yours in the palm of his hand...shalom."

Joe, I hope you are now sitting in the palm of God's hand. RIP.

74WIXYgrad said...

My first memory of Joe Finan was as the morning man at WIXY/1260. It was 1968, and I was 12 years old. I remember that he was taking part of a walkathon. As long as the pledges came in, Joe continued walking. I remember at one point that the donations stopped so the DJ told Joe to stop. Then a few minutes later, he was walking again.

I also remember when he came back to Cleveland to be on WHK. The television ad showed him putting up the WHK billboard, then saying that country music is what brought him back to Cleveland.

To young to remember KYW, didn't listen to WNIR. RIP Joe.

Mike Dane said...

Another sad day. In all honesty I
never liked Joe Finan, and Lord
knows I've taken my shots at Joe
on the air. But I did respect him.
He had been in this business for
so long and done so much that you
had to be an idiot not to.
A talented man.
It is especially hard to lose
someone at this time of year and
my heart and prayers go out to
his family.

Mike Dane
WSTB-FM 88.9
The Sunday Oldies

Anonymous said...

I worked for Joe at Top 40 KTLK in Denver in early 1971 where he was morning man GM and PD. What a great talent and a good guy to work for. Jonny Bruce, KDES-FM, Palm Springs,Ca.

bizdecision said...

What a tough couple of months for northeast Ohio in terms of the passing of broadcasting icons. Jaybird and Joe. We can't forget Casey Coleman died recently as well. R.I.P. to all three and God bless their families as well.

Mason Meyer said...

I worked with Joe at WNIR for about seven years and remained close friends with him after he retired. He was the person responsible for getting me into the business about 14 years ago. I did a mentorship program while in highschool and wanted to see how a radio station operated. Thinking I would get a cool station like KDD or WONE (I was 17 years old) they hooked me up with a talk station and some old grumpy fart named Joe Finan.

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.

The past six months Joe started downhill quickly. I visited him two weeks ago and am glad I did. We spent a few great hours chatting.

Sorry for the long post but I thought I would share my personal experience with Joe. Everyone forms opinions of talk hosts and DJs based on their on-air delivery and content and I wanted everyone to see a glimpse of Finan as I knew him off the air.

Sour Apples said...

While I usually never agreed with Joe or his politics. I did like how he was always fair to the other side. If the Republicans or the conservatives were right Joe would admit it. Joe was probably the best liberal talk show host out there. RIP Joe you earned it and God Bless your family.

Keith Kennedy said...

The first time I met Joe was to discuss his return to the air with a possible weekend show. Joe would have none of it. He wanted five days a week or nothing. At the time he was 78. As he spoke I thought, why would he want to do this? As I listened to him pitch the show, I could see why. The fire was still there. The lovers of our business know it’s impossible to get radio out of your system and Joe was no different.

Joe was an amazing story teller. I doubt his stories were fabricated but perhaps slightly embellished for dramatic purposes. Joe shared his incredible experiences with those he knew. Fascinating stories from the Miami DJ Conventions, The Payola Scandal, his distain of Dick Clark, the mobsters in Denver (really) and my personal favorite…how he had to explain the delivery of a new living room set to his wife. It came from a record label, but he couldn’t tell her that. Joe did say it was a real nice TV.

On his first day back he arrived early. I recall Matt telling me Joe was in the building before he was. Joe was so excited to go back on one more time. His very first show was a treat because many of the stories he told lifted the curtain just a little. There has been much written about the relationship between Joe and his former co-worker Howie Chizek. The rumors were they didn’t speak and had not as much said hello in over 10 years. Joe confirmed the story off air and on. Political opinions aside, it was hard to imagine what would cause such a riff. Joe said he would tell all in the first hour and boy did he. Joe claimed he was frustrated because for twenty years he’d follow a man whom he described as over 300 pounds, who sweat profusely for five hours into a upholstered chair he would share. Joe said he had to double up his shorts to keep from getting soaked. It was classic Finan and very funny.

Joe – We’ll miss you.


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 is equal”. Finally they hung up, suppressing laughter.

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

Anonymous said...

I heard much of the WNIR morning show today and besides the less- then-human person you referenced above I thought they did a great job. I personally know that Stan had great respect for Joe on a number of different levels. So did Jim Midok. Stan organized about the entire retirement roast for Joe two years ago. Nothing glamorous, no money for himself, just a thank you to an old retiring broadcaster.

It is Stan's job to make people giggle. As much as I loved Joe it was fun to hear Stan and the gang make fun of his WILD clothes and some of his unique broadcast attributes like his nose whistling in the mic. Joe would have laughed also. His humor was quite evident even up to my last visit to him just a few weeks back.

Trust me, Finan could hold his own regarding both giving and taking fun jabs. Stan did that very respectfully this morning and I though tribute was absolutely sincere.

Mason Meyer

MIKE YOUNG said...

When I read the news about Joe's passing I was SPEECHLESS and anbody who knows me will tell you that's a tough thing to do. I remember Joe from his WHK days when Malrite owned them and they were playing Country. Gary Dee in the mornings with Jim Belles as his newsman. Tim Byrd the P.D. AND 1-3pm host followed by Steve Norris at 3 who would leave to be replaced by The Late Wild Bill Wilkins and at 7pm Carolyn Carr until Midnight and then Doc Lemon. A view players would leave Byrd for MTV to be replaced by Joel Raab aka Jay Stevens the unknown D.J. And there was Joe SIM-SALA-BIM Finan with Marv Boone his newsman,talking current events playing country music and looking up your zodiac with his machine coleko I believe. Very funny stuff kinda like a tarot reader you'd see at a flee market and sometimes if a listener got on his nerve especially a female he would wish for her a case of bra-itch. I had the pleasure of working with Joe at WNIR IN EARLY 1990-91 on the am side 1520 WJMP PLAYING OLDIES. I introduced myself mentioned Gary and he told me some of the wild times he and Gary had. Joe was always there to lend a hand and sage advice to not only me but one other fine air-talent at 1520 who as I did would float over WNIR AND DO EXTRA WORK AND THIS YOUNG MAN GOING TO KENT STATE and also learned at the knee of the MAN IN THIS BUSINESS WAS Mark Nolan of WKYC. Joe had told a lstener of the air or on I'M not sure but knowing Joe probably on at 1350 that I was doing a program on WHK,and Joe said he had heard about the show and was proud that I pick up where he and Randle left off. Playing great music of the '40's,50's and '60's he never missed a show. Joe was rough and tough and he told ya what he thought it didn't matter if you liked him or not he wanted you too think. He wasn't afraid to say on the air he hated Dick Clark and thought he lied during the payola scandal hated Mitch Miller,loved Jazz. Joe Finan joins a long list Jaybird,Casey Coleman in just the last 3mos to Bill Randall and Ronnie Barrett in just 2 1/2 years of great talents who are now stilled but Thank God we have our memories and the time in the last 30 years to hear Joe Finan not only an icon in this business but a man who after 54 years still had the drive and desire that we all do wheather your in your first year,20th year in my case or 30th. Thank-You Joe and GOD BLESS YOU IT MUST BE ONE HELL OF A REUNION WITH DEE,RANDLE AND MERLE POLLIS AND MY MONEY IS ON YOU,REST IN PEACE DEAR FRIEND. Mike Young Sundays Noon-2pm WHK/The Sunday Oldies Jukebox

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.

Cles said...

Never liked him. Could not listen to him. Won't miss him

Anonymous said...

Joe was a good friend of mine. In October he did some radio commercials for my computer store and he great. Joe would call me frequently when he had computer problems and I would run over to his house and fix them. They were always simple and I probably could have walked him through it over the phone but the truth is I just liked to sit down and talk with him. He had such a unique perspective of showbiz and I loved hearing his take on it. I called him up 2 days before he died and he told me he was going into the hospital and I was going to make a suprise visit on christmas. I'm just glad I got to talk to him one last time.

Anonymous said...

I don't know your name but I do know that Joe thought highly of you. He always mentioned his computer friend and how extremely helpful you were. He used to call me from time to time for computer help (I sell software) but I was usually not much help. I know what you mean about sitting down with Joe. It was always an experience. The stories, the jokes, the nuggets of wisdom, the life challenges. He really never held much back personally. I really loved the guy and he had a huge influence on my life.

Matt from Wadsworth said...

Joe Finan was first and foremost a great listener, thats what all the good interviewer have, radio or television, the ability to listen to the other side instead of just rambling on like some hosts tend to do.

I remember talking to Joe when he was still at WNIR, the saturday after the 2004 presidential election, he started talking to me at 4:00 Pm (when his show was done on saturday) and talked for a good 10 minutes. I remeber mentioning my disbelief in regard to the election returns, and he said "sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you". He was extremely nice

I last spoke to him when he was at WARF 1350 AM on good friday of 2006, and I mentioned being an communications major, and he was encouraging, and told me to call again some time

Matt from Wadsworth said...

Joe Finan was first and foremost a great listener, thats what all the good interviewers have. Radio or Television, the ability to listen to the other side instead of just rambling on like some hosts tend to do is an added plus and skill.

I remember talking to Joe when he was still at WNIR, the saturday after the 2004 presidential election, he started talking to me at 4:00 Pm (when his show was done on saturday) and talked for a good 10 minutes. I remember mentioning my disbelief in regard to the election returns, and he said "sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you". He was extremely nice

I last spoke to him when he was at WARF 1350 AM on good friday of 2006, and I mentioned being an communications major, and he was encouraging, and told me to call again some time!

Lastly Joe was an original. Too often people try to be like somebody famous. But not Joe, nor did Bill Randle, Jaybird Drennan, Casey Coleman, Alan Freed and others seek to be someone other who they were.
Joe was a class act, but he didn't take crap from anybody! He helped give a voice to the voiceless, and help the listener understand the complexity of certain issues.

Thats about all, I could go on and on, but to sum it all up, people liked to listen to his show because, (at least I did) got a sense that he cared deeply and didn't like being B.S.ed.