Former Musicradio77 WABC air personality Bob Cruz is probably best remembered for having a sound that was strikingly similar to that of the stations longtime afternoon air personality, Dan Ingram. He arrived at WABC while still in his early 20s from WLCY in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Musicradio77.com has stated that his first show, on Mar. 1, 1976, probably marked the last time that the hiring of an air personality at WABC generated news in New York City. After that, over the final six years as a music radio station, it appeared that the firing of air personalities - such as the sudden departures in late November 1979 of George Michael, Harry Harrison and Chuck Leonard - were what garnered more attention.
By the late 1970s, WABC was past its heyday as FM stations became more prominent in the ratings.
Recently three of Bobs former WABC colleagues Mike McKay, who is now the executive vice president of KVLC, KXPZ, KMVR and KOBE in New Mexico; longtime station engineer Frank DElia; and former longtime air personality Harry Harrison, - offered their memories of Bob.
Subsequent to his stint on the overnight show and then on afternoon drive time at WABC, he became a noted voiceover artist and then the announcer for ABCs 20/20. He died in 1995.
WABC engineer Frank DElia, phone interview, Apr. 8, 2008
It was shocking how much Bob sounded like Dan Ingram, Frank said.
I was a new engineer in the summer of 1976 and worked with Bob a lot on the overnight show, which he had just started doing months earlier, he said. He was a fun guy, and I liked working with him.
You could tell then that he was destined to do something bigger than overnights, Frank said.
However, he got there at 22, 23 years of age, and maybe management didnt do him any favors by hiring him on the basis that he sounded so much like Dan Ingram, he added. Bob might have been better off establishing more of his own identity.
But Dan apparently had been his idol while he was growing up, and thats who he wanted to sound like, Frank said.
I think some people resented that Bob sounded so much like Dan, he said. They may have thought that he was a rip-off artist, a cheap clone. I think it became a double-edged sword for him.
He may have actually flourished more on the overnight show, because you could do more of what you wanted because there werent any executives calling you at three in the morning, Frank said. I think it became different in late 1979 when he moved to afternoons after Dan Ingram took over the morning shift when the station went through a lot of changes. There was more pressure and less freedom.
Bob had a remarkable voiceover career, he said. You would turn on the television and watch ABC Sports and it seemed as though he was everywhere. I think they felt comfortable with him because he was very good at live events as a result of all of his radio experience.
Former WABC air personality Mike McKay, e-mail message, Feb. 2, 2008
My first memory of Bob Cruz was when I was at 'TIC-FM in Hartford and listening to WABC on Saturday afternoon. I was sure I was listening to Dan Ingram but it seemed a bit different and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It was Dan but it was slightly sped up. Also, he never used his name. I thought that was odd. Later, I learned it was actually Bob, but the similarity was remarkable.
I began my tenure at WABC in November of '79, just before the "big change" and Bob was still doing overnights. I can recall listening with amazement to his "conversations" with Dan, Harry Harrison, and Ron Lundy. Of course, it was all Bob and his impersonations were dead on and very, very funny. I always believed that he was at his best doing impressions. He would be very creative while doing them and frankly, hilarious.
His tenure as afternoon host (4-8) doesn't stand out much in my mind but that was a time of flux and of course, it wasn't long before Dan moved back to afternoons and Bob left the station. Bob was just getting serious about his voiceover career at that time and he threw himself into it with incredible zeal. I can recall him carrying a small case with his own microphone in it so he could use it for auditions.
In 1980, he went to the Olympics as an announcer for ABC TV and it was soon after that that he became the voice of "20/20.
In addition to having a wonderful voice, Bob had a great, and ever present, smile. I was deeply saddened when I learned that he had passed away. He was such a good guy.
Former WABC air personality Harry Harrison, statement, Feb. 13, 2008
He was a talented young guy from Long Island, and he made a great move from Florida radio to New York and WABC early in 1976.
He did all nights and after that moved to days after I, George Michael, and Chuck Leonard left the radio station in late 1979. He also did some outside commercial work with ABC TV.
I enjoyed working with Bob and I was shocked and sorry to hear of his death [in 1995].
Regards to Allan Sniffen and to all my radio friends on the web.
Former WABC Morning News Anchor
John Meager, post to NYRMB April 19, 2008
(added by Allan Sniffen)
My memories of Bob Cruz:
It was the late 70s.I was the morning drive newsie at WABC. Upon arrival at 5:30am, Webb Kelley, the overnight writer, had already prepared the 5:55 newscast - which was WABC's only bow to rural America - the Agriculture Report - required, if I recall, by the FCC. Well, Bob had not been in the overnight slot very long when, in the middle of the Agriculture Report, what did I hear but barnyard sound effects. You know, your moos, your baaas, your snorts, grunts...all played by the overnight engineer with a big grin on his face! I sometimes had to remove my "cans" (earphones) because the sounds made me laugh - and didn't want to break up on the air.
Ok, this went on for a couple of weeks - until then-News Director Paul Ehrlich got a memo from Leonard Goldenson's office. (He was THE Grand PooBah at ABC.) It seems the Sterling family in Pennsylvania listened to the show and thought the sound effects were hilarious! Since they didn't know what address to use, they sent their letter to President ABC, NY NY. That's how it got to Goldenson's office. The order - from on high - was to cease and desist the sound effects on the WABC Agriculture Report. And we did.
Did I mention the female overnight engineer who - at least once - flashed Bob? (Sigh!) We were all very envious. She was a looker!!
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