FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — Fort Wayne radio icon Charly Butcher died unexpectedly Wednesday after spending more than three decades at the top of his game in morning radio.
So current and former colleagues paid tribute to him during the morning show in the WOWO studios.
Colleagues at WOWO radio are still reeling from the news.
"It’s good to be here this morning, although the circumstances are obviously very difficult for all of us," Art Saltsberg says.
"I kept waking up and thinking did I dream it? Is this real? And unfortunately it wasn’t a dream. And I don’t know that it’s fully sunk in, especially for all of my teammates behind me, but I can guarantee after today’s over, I’m sure it will definitely sink in," says WOWO program and news director Kayla Blakeslee.
Butcher had been on vacation this week, with Steve Shine filling in at the anchor desk.
"We will take your calls all morning long at 447-1190," Shine announced.
With more than three decades on the air, Butcher was WOWO’s longest-running radio host, one who successfully transitioned to conservative talk show host from 1980s and 90s morning show shock jock on WMEE with Tony Richards as "Those Two Guys in the Morning."
Fans will remember the pair who created memorable bits like the Maumee River monster and human bowling.
"I’ve been told by many big radio groups that he was the best rock and roll disc jockey they’ve ever heard. I mean, he loved being on WOWO but he loved rocking out," Richards recalls.
With Butcher’s picture still on the wall, his name still on the newsroom’s white board, his colleagues are struggling with how to move forward without the man they called a leader, a mentor, and a friend.
"Still just abject disbelief. Younger than I am, healthier than I am. I certainly thought that I would be gone before him," WOWO’s Pat Miller says.
"His plan, I know from talking with him, was to stay at WOWO another 10 years or so and then retire, maybe, down to Florida. It’s just sad to me that that’s not going to be what happens," WOWO’s Art Saltsberg adds.
Charly Butcher is survived by his wife and three children.
He was 61.
Visitation for Butcher will be held from two to eight p.m. Sunday at D.O. McComb and Sons on Covington Road.
His funeral mass will be at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church Monday morning at 10:30, with calling an hour before.