The Finan Followup

Tributes to local broadcast legend Joe Finan continue to pour in, after his death earlier today at the age of 79.

Finan’s last broadcast home, Clear Channel liberal talk WARF/1350 Akron “Radio Free Ohio”, has posted audio of his last program on the station on October 10th on the page we linked earlier. There are also pictures of Finan during his debut broadcast, and at various station remotes.

And as we saw before with the death of another local broadcast icon, WSLR/1350 morning star Jaybird Drennan, the Northeast Ohio broadcast community has once again reached behind “competitive lines” to share news of another prominent voice being stilled by death.

Rubber City Radio’s AkronNewsNow (WAKR/WQMX/WONE) has its own tribute page to a host who never even had any connection with any of the company’s three Akron stations. It has audio from WARF, a link to a story by WKYC news anchor Dick Russ with an excellent timeline of Finan’s career, and even a link to, umm, the item below this one on OMW.

It’s a line on that AkronNewsNow page, written by WAKR/1590 program director Chuck Collins with help from Rubber City news director Ed Esposito, that jumped out at us tonight.

Finan is the third northeast Ohio broadcast legend to pass away in the past three months; WSLR morning great Jaybird Drennan passed away a week and a half ago and WTAM sports anchor Casey Coleman died November 27 after a heroic battle with pancreatic cancer.

Wow. They really do “happen in threes”, don’t they?

Since late last month, Northeast Ohio has lost three voices that were really a vital part of the fabric of the local broadcast community.

We understand that hosts on the talk station which employed Finan for nearly 20 years in afternoon drive, WNIR/100.1, talked about his passing today. In fact, just this evening, we heard WNIR evening host Tom Erickson reading a bit from our very own item just below this.

With all the tributes, we’re reminded of some of the things we didn’t remember about Joe Finan. We knew he was a popular DJ “back in the day” at AM top 40 stations in Cleveland (WIXY/1260, WHK/1420, KYW/1100), and you certainly couldn’t forget his role in the payola scandal.

But we’d forgotten that he was considered Ohio’s first on-camera TV weatherman, at the station then known as WNBK/4 (now NBC affiliate WKYC/3).

Not everyone “liked” Joe Finan. We think Joe would be the first to admit to it…he didn’t rub everyone the right way, at least in “public”.

But we’re particularly affected by some of the private things Joe did well away from the spotlight. As an admitted recovering alcoholic, Joe watched out for those having the same troubles. From our comment page on the earlier item:

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.

And then there’s this comment, which shows how Joe mentored aspiring broadcasters. It’s from Mason Meyer, a former WNIR staffer who once hosted the weekend editions of a station staple, “The Dating Show”:

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.

What’s the line? Something about doing things when no one is looking?

That’d appear to describe one Joe Finan, an irascible old guy who thought to do good deeds and reach out to his fellow man when no one was keeping track.

Joe? We’re keeping track, now…


Speak Your Mind