(By Deborah Parenti) On Sunday, I attended a visitation for longtime Dayton radio broadcaster “Bucks” Braun. His passing was unexpected — Bucks was only 68 — but reminded me once again of the power of a radio personality.
I had the pleasure of working with Bucks in the ’90s after Stoner Broadcasting, which would become American Radio Systems, acquired WONE and WTUE from Summit Broadcasting in 1993. Bucks did mornings at WONE, an AM Country station at the time, and although it suffered the same erosion of AMs, Buck’s personality cast an imprint that was larger than the coverage map. In many ways, Bucks was bigger than the radio station. So much so that even as we changed formats in the ensuing years, from Country, to Hot Talk and Sports, to MOR, Bucks’ loyal legion of fans followed him, because, well, Bucks was Bucks.
Clients also loved him. He was a sales rep’s dream, willing to cultivate and nurture every account that bought time on his show. And the billing bore that out, his show representing at one point a whopping 45% of the station’s total revenue. But it went beyond that. A “live” spot by Bucks got results. There was something compelling and sincere in his delivery. And I can attest to that. When I returned to Dayton years later and bought a home that needed new window treatments, I remembered a blind company that had advertised with Bucks. I could still recall him earnestly talking about their service, so even 18 years later, I knew who to call. And when I did, I also made sure they knew that radio not only worked in the present, but provided residual benefits as well!
There was another thing, however, that struck me as I was leaving the funeral home. It was a conversation between another Dayton radio favorite, Butch Brown, and one of the many listeners who had come to pay their respects. Upon seeing Butch, the gentleman approached him, hand tentatively extended, to inquire if he was indeed “Butch Brown.” As Butch warmly smiled and acknowledged that yes, it was him, the listener grinned and began to effusively relate how much he had enjoyed hearing Butch on the air over the years and how much, beyond entertainment and information, the companionship Butch provided had always meant to him. It was one of those special moments; one that serves to remind us, quite honestly, and yes poignantly, that this thing called radio is more than a music service, more than an audio platform, and more than just another medium.
Rest in peace, Bucks Braun. And thank you, for even in passing, you have left us with another wonderful radio story to tell.
Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. She can be reached at [email protected]