Remembering a broadcast icon
Brad Davis was a 'big deal.'
Good morning, all. I hope your week is off to a great start.
Over the last week in my neck of the woods (Connecticut) we lost a local, broadcast icon in Brad Davis. I had the honor to work with Brad for two decades, serving as the news and sports director on his morning radio program on WDRC-AM in Hartford, CT and the Talk of Connecticut radio network and later as co-host of the show.
Brad never seemed to run out of energy, even well into his 80s. He died at the age of 87 and was off the air the last two years. But in his day, which was more than six decades in radio and television, this U.S. Marine was everywhere, hosting a rock-and-roll dance show on TV, when that genre was popular, covering news worthy events, engaging in investigative journalism, hosting a morning show on the radio for 43 years and raising millions of dollars for every worthy cause imaginable. Radio was his life. As local, television news anchor Dennis House stated at Brad’s funeral on Saturday, when radio and TV were the predominant communication vehicles in the Hartford market, “Brad was a big deal.”
Brad was also a sports fan. In the 1970s, when Reggie Jackson was a “big deal” with the New York Yankees, his agent managed to land an endorsement at a Hartford auto dealership for Reggie. “Mr. October” came to the area on several occasions to film TV ads with Brad. The two struck up a friendship. Without going into detail, let’s just say Brad and Reggie had a great time, whenever Reggie came to town.
The stories I have about Brad - we traveled the state together and shared countless times on and off the air - are too numerous, but one of my favorites involves sports. Our Talk of Connecticut network not only had a talk format but carried sports, including games of the New Britain Rock Cats baseball club and the University of Hartford men’s basketball team. Broadcasting high school football games was not part of our format but it just so happened our studios were located in Bloomfield, a couple of miles from one of the state’s most prolific high school football programs, Bloomfield High School. The coach of the perennial state champion school was the hard nosed Jack Cochran, who made Vince Lombardi seem like Mr. Rodgers.
One season, with Bloomfield set to play in another state title game, I convinced the station’s GM Wayne Mulligan, another big sports fan, to broadcast the game. Having extensive play-by-play experience, I would broadcast the game and Brad, who loved and once played high school football, would serve as my analyst.
On the day of the game, it is forbidden to talk to the head coach, even at the high school level, especially the iconic Jack Cochran. Fifteen minutes before air time, in the broadcast booth at Southern Connecticut State University, I turned to my left to talk to Brad, but he wasn’t there. I figured he had gone where every broadcaster goes fifteen minutes before air time. Ten minutes before air time, no Brad. Five minutes before air time, still no Brad. Suddenly, I look down on the field and there is Brad talking with Cochran. The two were engaged in a conversation like two, long-lost buddies. By air time, Brad was back in the booth with the latest information on the Bloomfield Warhawks. No Jack Cochran was going to stop this Marine from getting the absolute latest on the team. Even Cochran knew Brad was a “big deal.”
Brad and I would always end the morning program with an expression I picked up while living and working in the south:
Brad: “See you tomorrow, my friend, the good Lord willing,”
Me: “And the creek don’t rise.”
R.I.P. my friend. Until we meet again, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.
That’s it for this morning. I hope you have a tremendous week and as always, thank you for your support.