Former WBCK Talknet Host Bruce Williams Dies at 86
Bruce Williams, whose over-the-airwaves common sense advice guided WBCK listeners and millions nationwide, has passed away at the age of 86.
Williams would start each show with the words, "Welcome, welcome my world, welcome to Talknet." Talknet was NBC's venture into the brand new nationally syndicated talk radio, made possible new satellite receiver technology. In November of 1981, Bruce Williams and Sally Jesse Raphael took over the airwaves on stations across America, following the success of Larry King on the Mutual Network a couple of years before. Soon, others followed. Williams was a fixture on WBCK until the mid-90's.
The early syndicated hosts didn't do much political talk, because the Fairness Doctrine was still in effect and would have required every affiliate to give equal time for any opinions voiced. So the programs often focused on finance and relationships. Williams talked about money and investments and was a strong small business and consumer advocate. He was frank with listeners, often telling them that they'd have to get a second or third job, start saving more money, or hire an attorney. He did it for nearly 30 years on national radio.
Williams also pioneered the idea of doing a talk show from nearly any location. Part of that happened by accident--literally. In 1982, Williams was in a terrible crash of his private plane, and somehow did is radio show a week later from his hospital bed. He then did the show from his home for three months. Later, he did his show from home all the time. Listeners could often hear the sound of his dog snoring away in his home studio, or of family members coming in and out during the broadcast. And you could often hear him turning over cards as he played Solitaire during his show.
Williams died Saturday, February 9, at his home near Tampa, Florida after a brief illness. The broadcast industry recognized Williams’ accomplishments in 1999 when he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago. Williams’ career did not begin until he was well into his forties.
Click on the video to hear some of the show and the opening.