Tom Marr

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Thomas Aquinas "Tom" Marr (October 17, 1942 – July 7, 2016) was an American talk radio host on WCBM (680-AM) in Baltimore, Maryland, known for his conservative political views.[1] He spent nearly 20 years as a newsman and sportscaster, including eight seasons as a radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles before he embarked on a trail blazing political talk-radio career. His full broadcasting career spanned close to fifty years, mostly in Baltimore, although he worked in other major markets, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City.[2]

Life and career[edit]

While in high school, Marr hosted a high school sports show on WWDC in 1960.[3] After graduating from Montgomery Blair High School of Silver Spring, Maryland, Marr served in the United States Marine Corps until being discharged in 1963.[2][3] Marr then worked for radio stations in Rhode Island and Salisbury, Maryland then became an announcer for WTAR of Norfolk, Virginia. In 1967, Marr became an anchor and news director for WFBR of Baltimore, and was a panelist and commentator on the award-winning call-in show Conference Call.[3][4] From 1965 - 1975, Marr covered Baltimore's professional sports teams (Orioles, Colts, the NBA's Bullets) for CBS Radio News on their national sportscasts. He supplied the network with more than 150 reports a year including coverage from Super Bowls III and V, the 1969, 1970, and 1971 World Series, and the 1971 NBA Finals. In 1971, Marr broadcast the play-by-play for six Orioles exhibition games in Japan against Japanese baseball teams as part of a goodwill trip. While serving as WFBR's news director and morning drive-time news anchor, Marr also spent 3 years from 1976-1979 as the weekend sports anchor on Baltimore's WMAR-TV (Channel 2).

From 1979 to 1986, Marr was a radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles on the team's flagship station WFBR, calling the play-by-play in the 1979 and 1983 World Series, and the exhibition games during another goodwill trip to Japan in 1984. After the 1986 season, the Orioles broadcast rights went to another station, and Tom utilized his roots as a newsman and political commentator to embark in what would ultimately evolve into his talk radio career.[2] In addition to his weekday WFBR talk-show, Marr was hired by Philadelphia's WWDB (FM) in 1987 to host a similar political talk radio show on Saturday nights, which he hosted for 7 years before going to work full time for WWDB in 1995.

In 1988, WFBR was sold, and the new owners dismissed all of the station's on-air personnel while changing the format from news/talk to "oldies" music from the 1950s era. At about the same time, rival station WCBM Radio filed for bankruptcy, went silent shortly thereafter, and was put up for sale. Later that year, WCBM returned to the airwaves under new ownership when Baltimore businessman Nick Mangione, Sr. purchased the station and resurrected it from bankruptcy. Mr. Mangione was an avid listener of talk radio and a fan of WFBR's former talk radio format and line-up. Once he acquired WCBM, Mangione brought most of WFBR's on-air line-up to WCBM, including Marr.

Marr stayed at WCBM until 1995 when he was offered a full-time weekday show on Philadelphia's WWDB-FM where he had been hosting a Saturday evening show since 1987. Marr returned to WCBM in 1997 when they offered him a long-term contract to return. Additionally, Marr cited displeasure with WWDB's programming structure which devoted too much time to commercials, traffic reports, and news updates each hour, along with an ownership that pressured him to avoid hot-button political issues in favor of more light-hearted topics, such as "pizza toppings."[5]

Marr was a staple on WCBM's talk-radio line-up after returning to the station in 1997, and his show was the station's lead-in program to the Rush Limbaugh Show. He was called on to do fill-in work for nationally syndicated radio hosts such as Bob Grant, which helped lead to Marr's own nationally syndicated weeknight show on the WOR Radio Network in New York City. Marr made frequent television appearances on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. Marr also sometimes filled in for host Mark Levin on the nationally syndicated The Mark Levin Show, [6] and for Lou Dobbs' nationally syndicated program on the United Stations Radio Networks. Marr was consistently ranked by Talkers Magazine as one of the most influential talk show hosts in the United States as part of their "Heavy Hundred" list. At the time of Marr's death, TALKER'S publisher Michael Harrison issued the following statement: "All of us at TALKERS are devastated over the loss of our dear friend and broadcasting treasure, Tom Marr. Tom was one of the true greats and a perennial member of the Heavy Hundred. His accomplishments in radio go back well before the modern era of talk radio that he played such an important role in building. He was an outstanding, kind, compassionate man who cared deeply about his fellow human beings – qualities that he brought to the airwaves day-after-day, decade-after-decade. The radio industry has lost one of its greatest players." [7]

Tom Marr died at the age of 73 on July 7, 2016, as a result of stroke following back surgery.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Olesker, Michael (February 29, 1996). "Voice of longevity lost with Marr's departure". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Tom Marr website – bio
  3. ^ a b c "Six golden voices of vintage radio remain on the air in Baltimore Broadcasting Success". The Baltimore Sun. April 2, 1995. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Nortrup, Mike (April 14, 1991). "From Potholes To Politics, Marr Airs It Out On Radio". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  5. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (October 12, 1997). "Tom Marr returns after stint in Philadelphia Radio". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8pyEuN8tL8
  7. ^ http://www.talkers.com/tag/tom-marr/
  8. ^ Zurawik, David; Rasmussen, Frederick N. (July 7, 2016). "WCBM talk show host Tom Marr dies at 73". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 7, 2016.

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