Following our Thursday story about the passing of Bob McCurdy, so many of you left comments and sent private messages about the impact Bob made on your life. We appreciate you sharing your fond memories. If you missed any of those comments Thursday, they are below our story here, and we certainly believe worth a read.
(By Ed Ryan) Every Saturday for the last few years Bob McCurdy would send me his weekly column that would appear in the Radio Ink Monday morning headlines. His columns appeared in my inbox like clockwork, 8:00 in the morning, with the subject line ‘Here you go.’ We’d have a short e-mail exchange, maybe a phone call about his column or I’d ask him how he’s feeling.
Bob had accumulated a wealth of knowledge, and a huge rolodex, from his many years in radio, and with Katz, and he could hammer out columns brimming with facts and charts about the power of radio. They were always positive, always motivating (You can find about 200 of Bob’s columns HERE). His glass was always more than half full, even at the start of a pandemic. From Bob’s March 14th column: “As difficult as it might seem this morning, this country will overcome this challenge as we’ve overcome all previous challenges and thrive once again. It is just that no one is clairvoyant and no one knows exactly when.”
On Saturday, July 18, no column. No e-mail response. No answer to my text. I started calling around to friends and colleagues hoping to hear some good news, any news at all. This had never happened, not once, since Bob started writing columns for Radio Ink. We all knew Bob was battling cancer and the prognosis wasn’t good.
Last night we received word that Bob had passed away after that lengthy fight he was having with cancer. His obituary was sent along by several folks and included a line every person that knew Bob will agree with:
Bob leaves behind an amazing legacy
Radio was Bob’s second choice career: Bob was an All-American basketball player and the leading scorer in the nation while playing for the University of Richmond in 1975. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and anticipated a long NBA career. When injuries curtailed his pursuit of that dream he set his sights upon another.
He started at WLEE AM in Richmond in 1976, then followed his early mentor and General Manager, John Piccirillo, to Indianapolis shortly thereafter. That’s where Bob became a huge proponent of leveraging data and the latest sales tools.
In 1980, his thirst for knowledge and growth led Bob to an opportunity in Chicago on the national side of the business with Katz Radio. After just a few years as an Account Executive, he was promoted to run the Minneapolis office. Just a few years after that he was brought back home to NY to run the largest office in the company.
Bob completely reimagined and reinvented the role of a national rep while leading the Katz Radio New York office. He took the risk of parting ways with some highly tenured staffers and replacing them with less experienced people he could mentor and mold into his vision. The risk paid off and Katz soon took over the #1 billing position in the industry. Bob quickly became General Sales Manager and his philosophy and work ethic spread across the entire company. It was no surprise that in 1990 he became President of Katz Radio.
Bob went on to lead numerous divisions of the company throughout his tenure and formed a deep bond with former Katz CEO Stu Olds. Bob gave much credit to Stu for helping him to develop other aspects of his skill set and was crushed when Stu passed away suddenly in 2010.
In recent years Bob returned to his roots in local radio taking on a leadership position with Beasley Broadcasting. He loved to teach and impact others, and the role with Beasley gave him a great platform from which to do so.
Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley: “Bob was a trusted confidant, a valued advisor and an incredible ambassador on behalf of the Beasley Media Group family and the radio industry. His love and passion for the business could be seen and heard in everything he did within our company as well as the industry. Bob will be greatly missed and will be forever remembered as a beloved member of our family.”
Bob was a tremendous influence on many in the industry. His competitive drive, his thirst for knowledge, his discipline and his work ethic impacted everyone who had a chance to work with him.
Radio Ink Chairman Eric Rhoads: “Bob was different from the pack. Though he had enthusiasm for radio, it was always rooted in research. His passion was finding data that proved radio’s ability to deliver. As a result, he had a huge positive impact on the radio industry, which was able to take his data to the market. Not only will we miss Bob for his passion and enthusiasm, we will miss his vast contribution to this industry. He was a strong believer to the very end, in spite of the threats posed to the industry, he had data to show that radio remained strong and viable.”
Bob recently completed a book about leadership, culture and sales. In it he writes, “It has often been said that one can never tell where a teacher’s influence ends. The same is true with leaders. As leaders, we are teachers and as with teachers you can never tell where an effective leader’s influence ends. That makes for an amazing legacy.”
His wife Sydney, his daughters Meagan and Ashley, his sons Michael and Sean, his stepchildren Margaret, Charlie and Will Emerson and his seven grandchildren survive Bob.
Funeral information will be posted as soon as we hear.
Ed Ryan is the Editor of Radio Ink Magazine and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]