more than 66 years radio broadcaster Bob Steele brightened the
mornings of Connecticut listeners. THE
REAL BOB STEELE: CONNECTICUT'S RADIO LEGEND traces the life and career of this radio
legend. Previously unseen pictures and footage of Steele,
contributed by his wife and sons, help create a unique
intimate portrait. Archival interviews with Steele, new interviews
with his fellow broadcasters and comments by some of his ardent
listeners complete the program,
which premiered October 2003 on Connecticut Public Television.
by Joanne Nesti of WVIT-NBC30, the documentary features archival
interviews with Steele and new interviews with his broadcast
colleagues including Gary Craig (WTIC FM), Brad Davis (WDRC), Mark
Davis (WTNH-TV), Arnold Dean (WTIC AM), Angela Dias (WTIC AM) and
Al Terzi (WFSB-TV3). Also appearing in the program are retired
colleagues Bob Ellsworth (WTIC AM/TV), Bill Hennessey (WTIC
Radio/TV) and Dick Robinson (WDRC).
Steele died December 2002 at the age of 91, many Connecticut
residents felt as if they had lost a close friend. His
warm on-air personality was matched by his immense popularity.
Beginning in pre-television days, when radio was king, and
continuing for decades after television’s advent, Steele was the
most dominant radio broadcaster in the country. In his heyday,
which spanned several generations of listeners, he hosted the
most-listened-to morning radio show in the U.S. with an audience
that reached more than a million people a day.
in Kansas City, Missouri in 1911, Steele took on responsibility
early in life. He started working at age eight, delivering
prescriptions at night in order to help his divorced mother make
ends meet. It took him six years to graduate from high school due
to his work schedule. After stints as a newsboy, salesman,
motorcycle messenger and professional boxer, he was invited to
Hartford by a race promoter to announce a motorcycle race. While
spending his last day in town, he walked into WTIC-AM on a whim
and asked to audition for a vacant announcer position. Beating out
12 other applicants, Steele became a junior staff announcer at
WTIC in Hartford on Oct. 1, 1936.
took over the “The G. Fox Morning Watch” radio show on WTIC
Radio in 1943. Seven years later, it was renamed “The Bob Steele
Show.” By the time of his retirement from daily radio in 1991,
he had created the longest running radio show in the country.
Steele never fully retired, continuing to host a monthly
radio show on WTIC-AM until his death.
immense popularity was due to many factors. The bottom line was
that he was an eminently likable personality. On the air from 5:30
10 a.m. Monday through Saturday, his warm baritone was often the
first voice that listeners heard in the morning. His voice was
matched by his on-air persona -- intimate, witty, smart, yet
accessible. Listeners got the impression of a man who enjoyed his
work, who respected intelligence, and who enjoyed talking to you
show was easy-going and comfortably predictable. Segments
comprised weather (including world temperatures), sports (Steele
was longtime sports director for WTIC), birthdays, anniversaries,
local and national news, storytelling for children. And of course
nothing brightened up a winter morning more for generations of
school-age kids than when Bob Steele announced that there would be
no school that day.
with a pun (and a corny joke or two), Steele’s respect for the
spoken word was renowned. He regularly shared with his audience
tips and lessons on grammar and pronunciation, including his
“Word for the Day,” a perennially popular part of his show.
His unparalleled popularity was matched by a very
responsive audience. He regularly received hundreds of letters a
week from listeners.
of Steele posing with 20th-Century sports greats and
celebrities reflect his longevity and popularity. Dozens
of honors and awards came his way over the years, including
induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame and the CT Sports
Hall of Fame.