Brad Saul, Radio and Media Entrepreneur, Dies at 55

Westwood One released this salute to Brad Saul. We reprint it in whole.

Brad Saul webtalkradio.net

Brad Saul, radio and media entrepreneur died Friday evening, December 4, 2015, at his home in Chicago. He was 55 and had battled multiple sclerosis for 25 years. Brad is survived by his wife Debbie, and his three 16-year-old triplets, Gabrielle, Brennan and Griffen.

Brad always had multiple ventures and businesses. Saul was president and CEO of WebTalkRadio.net, a leading podcasting platform and CEO of Matrix Media, which developed and distributed radio programming for syndication. Saul was also the President of Chicago Disability Transit, which provided on-demand paratransit services for people with disabilities in Chicago.

At a Saturday morning street fair in the early 1970s, 13-year-old Brad Saul encountered WLTD(AM)’s Chuck Schaden broadcasting “Those Were the Days,” a nostalgia show. At Schaden’s invitation, young Brad guest hosted Schaden’s “Radio for Kids.” Sensing the appetite for old time radio programs, the young entrepreneur took an ad in a magazine for “radio nostalgia” programs and was flooded with orders for cassette copies of the program. The spark had been lit.

Saul began college at the University of Missouri but when a job offer from WBBM(AM) Chicago was presented, he transferred to Northwestern University. For the next three years, Saul juggled his studies with general manager positions at WEEF(AM) in Highland Park, Ill., and WONX(AM) in Evanston, Ill. Brad earned a graduate degree in Radio-TV-Film from Northwestern, and a law degree from Loyola University.

As a radio station general manager, Saul recognized the challenges faced by local stations to provide quality public service programming. He knew that in Chicago, he could produce better programming for the stations, and offer them on a barter basis. Saul’s first company, Public Interest Affiliates, was born.

In the 1980s, airline deregulation provided another syndication opportunity for Saul. Public Interest Affiliates provided airlines with audio and video programming. Business boomed. PIA became the largest provider of in-flight programming serving United Airlines, TWA, American Airlines, Eastern and others.

Realizing that the NBA was the only professional sports league without a network radio deal, Saul convinced the league to use PIA to create the NBA Radio Network in 1989. All of these amazing professional accomplishments occurred before Brad Saul had turned 30.

Shortly after his 30th birthday, Brad met his wife-to-be, Debbie, who then worked for the NBA. Just a few months later, Saul was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Undeterred by the diagnosis, Brad and Debbie married 14 months later and the triplets were born in 1999.

In 2003, Saul recognized the promise of the podcast, short on-demand audio spoken word content consumed on an iPod. He began securing and distributing podcasts via his WebTalkRadio.net platform, a pioneer in the field.

The ever-resourceful Saul established the Radio Center for People With Disabilities to recruit, train and place people with disabilities into radio station jobs. With the help of Yellow Cab Chicago owner Pat Corrigan, Saul established Chicago Disability Transit.

Brad Saul was the ultimate radio entrepreneur despite enormous challenges thrown his way. He told Inside Radio, “I hope there’s a 13-year old out there who will get bitten by the radio bug like I was. The deal I made with God is I’ll be a sport and deal with this disease in this life, but if she does this again in my next life — and I do hope God is a she — I’ll really have a problem.”

 

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