Known for wit and humor, Bruce Bradley was a part of the last generation of radio air personalities. To New Yorkers from that era, Bradley is remembered as the WYNY morning man from 1981 to ’83 as the station was gaining a head of steam. His voice was silenced Saturday at age 79 in Lake St. Louis, Missouri.
Although an official cause of death is not known, we’ve learned that Bradley suffered from emphysema late in life.
Bradley was born and raised in Rochester, New York. But before he’d return to work in the state, albeit in Manhattan, he made a name for himself at WBZ in Boston.
Bob Lape, the former WABC-TV reporter and food critic, worked with Bradley in Beantown.
“I did news amid his DJ show at WBZ in the early to mid-60’s. A quiet professional with a Bob Newhart air,” Lape tells Tuned In. “His wit was special — often sly, but always in evidence. He hit all the marks in delivering programs of quality — musically and in his whimsical reads of spots, and ad-libbery.”
WFAN’s Mike McCann, who was Bradley’s cohort at WYNY, says he achieved legend status at WBZ.
“If you talk to anybody in Boston, he was an absolute legend there,” McCann tells Tuned In. “On the lines of what people like Brucie, BMR [B. Mitchel Reed], Gary Stevens, and Murray the K were down here.”
Even though the legendary tier would escape Bradley in New York, his talent was still on display in the Big Apple. His smooth style was a cornerstone of his trade no matter where he opened the mic.
“I remember his great sense of humor and his professionalism.,” former WYNY colleague, Mitch Lebe, says. “He was our morning man at WYNY and was a real communicator. He had a smooth delivery. Everyone at WYNY enjoyed working with him.”
He landed the ‘YNY gig in the spring of 1981, and the timing could not be better. The Adult Contemporary NBC-owned station had just become the number one station in the city.
His wit and topical humor helped 97WYNY’s all-star on-air team build the most successful adult hit music station ever in the New York area, on AM or FM dials,” Pete Salant, WYNY program director, says.
Bradley’s morning drive run only lasted approximately 18 months before the push for more music and less talk bounced him to weekends to finish out his contract in 1985.
Ironically, many WYNY staffers gathered Sunday for a reunion in Manhattan, unbeknownst that their one-time morning jock was gone.
A decade earlier, Bradley was already gaining popularity at WHN on the renowned Feminine Forum. It was a show with talk elements embedded into a music format. Housewives discussed their changing role in contemporary society.
“This is another world we’re talking about. It was 40 years ago,” McCann, the all-night ‘YNY jock, says. He was at WHN before the flip to country in 1971, leaving a short time later. He also had a stint at WNEW-AM.
“He was one of those people who didn’t suffer fools easily,” McCann recalls. “You got the sense that he was always ready with a good, quick one liner.”
Arguably, his biggest success came on St. Louis powerhouse KMOX from 1986 to 1992. There he reinvented himself as afternoon host of a local and topical talk show.
KMOX longtime, mid-morning host Charlie Brennan recalls his first encounter with Bradley, during his second stint at WBZ.
“I remember, as a sophomore at Boston College in 1979, watching Bruce Bradley broadcast from a WBZ mobile unit in Boston’s Downtown Crossing section during the holidays. Unlike me–a college radio jock–Bruce was smooth and cool,” Brennan tells Tuned In.
Nine years later their paths would cross again at KMOX.
“I had just taken a fill-in role at the station and he joked, ‘Congratulations! You’re now working seven days a week!’
About the same time, McCann left WYNY as the sale was finalized with Westwood One. He got a job in St. Louis to flip their Top 40 FM to Oldies.
“I didn’t know a soul in St. Louis. I had been there for, literally, 24 hours on vacation when I was a teenager,” McCann says.
But he remembered that Bradley was on-air at KMOX.
He was literally the first person that I called. It was nice to connect with an old friend… It’s always nice to at least have somebody to help introduce you around. That’s a very fond memory I have of Bruce just being nice to a guy he hadn’t seen or heard from in probably four years.”