The Industry Remembers Bob McCurdy


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.

Bob, speaking at a Radio Ink Conference

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]



  1. I’m very sorry to hear the news that Bob McCurdy passed away earlier this week. Like hundreds of others, I have very strong feelings about him as a person, and about the contributions he made to the radio broadcasting industry over a long career. I met Bob in the early 1980s when I was NSM at KNIX in Phoenix. We had moved our national representation over to Katz, and I was lucky enough to learn a lot from some very dynamic national sellers and managers, including McCurdy. He was a true superstar…always upbeat and encouraging. As he moved up at Katz you could see how he was recruiting and molding young talent, and getting amazing results for client stations. Having fun, taking no prisoners, sharing his enthusiasm and passion about radio. I last spoke to him about 3 years ago and he was just like I remembered, inquisitive and full of ideas and questions. RIP Bob, thank you for your contributions, you’ll be missed.

  2. I had the privilege of working with Bob in the mid to late 80’s when he was busy transforming the national rep business in New York City and across the country. He was then and he continued to be the very best ambassador the radio industry ever had. I had the good fortune to work with him again in recent years. He still had a very fresh enthusiasm for our industry. He seemed to be more optimistic about radio the longer he was in it.
    He was always positive and he could always finding a story no mater what the format was. Brilliant mind and an excellent teacher. A great inspiration tome and many many other broadcasters. He will be dearly missed. Thank you Bob for everything you did for our industry. Sincere condolences.

  3. Ed, thank you for a wonderful tribute to Bob! Bob is truly one of a kind, and I owe the foundation of my career to Bob. He hired me at Katz Radio, trained me, mentored me, took me to Coach Wooden’s home for an incredibly memorable afternoon, and so much more. As young people, Bob taught so many of us how to compete in business, and he pushed us beyond what we thought we were capable of. He was passionate, brilliant, and he was infectious in his enthusiasm for radio. He was a pro’s pro. We shared the love of basketball and radio, and it goes without saying that our world is a better place because of Bob. RIP my friend. You left it all on the court of life!

  4. Bob McCurdy was a good friend and neighbor of mine. Our paths crossed occasionally early in his career and then he became a friendly competitor. Many times we discussed ideas and concerns about our great industry, but one thing never changed, his professionalism and personal concern for others. We never did much business together but we shared a lot of ideas over coffee and e-mail. He was a true friend and trusted ally in our medium. I will miss his frequent, well thought out commentaries and devotion to our business. Bob passing is a great loss and my true hope is that he realizes the tremendous impact he made on all of us and rests in peace, knowing the world was a better place because of him.

  5. We all thought Bob was invisible!
    He thought nothing of rolling up his sleeves and getting involved with buyers supervisors managers at agencies to teach them about buying with impartial research regarding Radio.
    Likewise Ted Turner did about cable.
    I was honored to call both friends!

  6. I was truly saddened to hear the news of Bob’s passing, he really was an inspiration to many in Radio! Knowing him since the early 90’s he was always positive, upbeat and a champion of our industry. He helped raise the bar for sales people and managers alike.

    He will be truly missed but never forgotten!

    May he rest in Peace.

    May he

  7. Bob was selfless, and a gentleman in every sense. I’m better for having known him. You won’t be forgotten, Mr McCurdy. Rest easy. We’ll take it from here.

  8. I am not exactly sure way but he was always simply “McCurdy.” Stu Olds would say, get McCurdy in here.” Jim Greenwald, “Who’s this guy McCurdy everyone talks about?” “McCurdy taught me,” said many the dozens of “survivors” of McCurdy’s legendary sales training program. “Call letters, tower height, frequency, all formats, ownerships better know them all.”

    “McCurdy.” Katz people always used his surname in much the same way as historians reference Roosevelt, Bush or Obama. Somehow, “McCurdy,” gave you the complete picture of the man as did the last name of his renowned mentor.

    “Wooden.” “Wooden,” as in “The Wizard of Westwood,” UCLA Coach John Wooden. It is no surprise that this great leader of a sport that McCurdy loved became his life’s mentor. It is fair to say that McCurdy idolized Wooden not only for his coaching leadership but for his personal ethos, honesty and integrity. He communicated regularly with “The Wizard,” until “Coach’s” death in 2002. McCurdy each day did his very best to live up to John Wooden’s standards and instill them in others. He often quoted his mentor when teaching his young charges, “Make each day your masterpiece.”

    It is not for me to attribute words to the late Stu Olds but from years of personal observation I am certain that Stu believed McCurdy was the very best with whom he had ever associated. Perhaps the best tribute of all, McCurdy was indeed Stu’s best friend.

    For now, and for generations to come many will owe a deep debt of gratitude to McCurdy. We will miss that tall, debonair and strikingly handsome gentlemen whose gravitas only heightened as his hair became streaked with grey. Let’s call it for what it was, “wisdom.”

    To wife Sydney, his daughters Meagan and Ashley, his sons Michael and Sean, his stepchildren Margaret, Charlie and Will Emerson and his seven grandchildren, please know that your husband, father and grandfather was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and that in our world he was indeed a “Star Player.” Most important he was a very good person who set a lasting example of excellence.

    I turn to a famous Coach Wooden quote for a most fitting epitaph commemorating the life of McCurdy.

    “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

    Gordon Hastings
    Katz Television/Radio

  9. Ed, every time I read his column it was UPBEAT and “Here’s how we’re going to win…..”. He influenced me and our team.

    I’m sorry he’s gone.

    Mike Frith
    Salem, Oregon

  10. Sad to hear the news about Bob. I knew Bob a long time. Over the many years in this business he and I had discussions, meetings, were on industry panels together. He pitched me, I pitched him, we pitched the industry. He and I had many “spirited” discussions…lol.
    I liked Bob because he backed up his talk with data and we had intelligent discourse. And he wouldn’t back down from me. No, quite the opposite. We were like sparring partners. We would both play hard and swing at each other but respectfully (occasionally heated), but always professional.
    I liked Bob. I respected Bob. I learned from Bob. I will miss him. RIP

  11. Ed,
    Thanks for your tribute to Bob. Like so many, I never met him but I read his columns religiously. I benefited from his insight during my career as an AE, GSM and GM. I’ve passed his knowledge on to hundreds of sales people.

    Bob was a Radio Guy. He will be missed.

  12. I will miss his B.O.M. emails. The Guy never turned off, never stopped working. I could always count on Bob replying to my emails in minutes helping me with a solution. He must have had 10,000+ articles about different topics in his archives. No matter what I asked him about he had information on. It was amazing. Beasley was fortunate to have him for the time we did. Thanks, Bob.

  13. What a shocking headline to read this morning! There was no one in Radio more in tune with the business than Bob McCurdy. I was so fortunate to work with him and learn from him. From the first day I met him in Richmond when he represented our stations–not only did we have “Richmond” in common, but also, his point of view about the business was always something that attracted my interest and my respect. I am so sad for his family, as I can only imagine how much he will be missed by them. While I hadn’t seen him in years, I felt connected to his mind reading his columns. Bob was all about the basics. No matter how the industry changed, Bob always stayed focused what was truly important. And like basketball, he knew it was always all about the fundamentals: Skills. Practice. Work Ethic. Fundamentals. Teamwork. Passion. Inspirational leadership. Winning. May He Rest In Peace in his extra-long resting place.

  14. I did not know Bob but always looked forward to reading his articles and positive outlook on every situation. One thing his style taught me among many was to look for the positive story and press forward. He was a teacher and mentor to many like me who I am sure he was unaware, yet we enjoyed reading and putting to work a portion of his Weekly ‘lessons.’ My condolences to his family and friends.

  15. Bob McCurdy was a giant of a man in more ways than one. Our conversations often weaved in and out of our two mutual passions, radio and basketball.
    The industry has lost a huge proponent, and the world a great man. Rest In Peace, Bob. And thank you for your leadership and friendship.

  16. Life can be so fleeting, as we see here, with Bob’s passing.

    I did not know him personally, but benefited greatly from reading his advice and optimism here at Radio Ink and elsewhere.

    Thank you, sir, and rest in peace.

  17. A wonderful remembrance of a brilliant man and a really great guy. I was lucky enough to work with him for just a short time, but he alway made me feel like I was more than worthy of his time and guidance and I will miss him dearly. RIP Mr. McCurdy.

  18. May He Rest In Peace I met Bob in 1996 he was always helpful and inspiring.
    I know he never forget about it however it is rarely mentioned, Bob took on the awesome responsibility of helping over 100 diverse sellers enter local radio 2003/2004.
    He was passionate about the assignment and poured so much in to the work that he cried during their graduation.
    He Cared. He Mattered.

  19. Bob McCurdy led the way in using data to form compelling insights about the power of radio. He and I were comrades in data driven storytelling and shared a deep fondness and respect for Erwin Ephron, the father of modern media planning. American radio has lost its sales teacher, life coach, and fierce advocate of reading more, learning more and turning that knowledge into useful counsel for our clients. Farewell my brother.

    Pierre Bouvard
    Chief Insights Officer
    CUMULUS MEDIA | Cumulus Radio Station Group | Westwood One

  20. Bob was a relentless champion for radio. A brilliant and lovely and passionate man. I’ll miss our lunches and his early Saturday am emails that came like clockwork.

    Jeff Warshaw

  21. Wonderful piece, Ed.
    During my tenure with RadioInk, Bob made it a point to contact me personally from time to time with comments and questions. – always with his inimitable positivity.
    We became email buddies.
    When he retired from Beasley, I had some concerns. I mean, a guy his age with all that hair….
    I shall be missing him.

  22. Ed, this is beautifully written. Bob was a special guy. Back in the Katz days, I would post my blog at 6am, and 15 minutes later, I’d get an email from Bob giving me an “atta boy” or providing additional insight that I hadn’t thought of.

    Like Buzz, through our work with Beasley, Paul and I got to work with Bob and spend time picking his brain. He always had the company’s best interest in mind, cared about his work, and the people around him.

    He wasn’t afraid of stepping up and saying something that would ruffle a feather or two. And that made him even more valuable to the companies he dedicated his career to.

    Condolences to Bob’s family, and to all of us who were lucky enough to work with him.

  23. Ed
    What a beautiful tribute to Bob!
    I had known of Bob for many years but I had never had the opportunity to meet him.
    I knew of his athletic legend and of course I knew of his tremendous hair. I was certainly aware of his brilliant mind and his passion for the industry.I then by nature of my good fortune for getting to work for Beasley would have the opportunity to work with him. It was then that I saw his rigor, strive for excellence, high bar for standards and his genial team nature come to life. The dude never stopped thinking on how to make a difference for the organization and for our industry. I miss him already as does our industry and countless individuals he mentored. RIP Bob.


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