Talk radio pioneer Bruce H. Williams has died at age 86, only five years after he signed off the air for the final time. Williams passed away in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 9, nine days shy of his 87th birthday.
Williams got his first radio gig in his forties at New Brunswick, N.J., talk station WCTC(AM). Beginning in 1975, he hosted a program called “At Your Service.” Next up, Williams moved to WMCA(AM) in New York. In 1981, Williams was scouted by NBC to serve as the host for a new syndicated advice radio program. Less than a year later, Williams crashed his airplane and was very seriously injured — but he was back on the air in a month, broadcasting from his room at the Medical Center of Princeton!
To honor his three-decade career, the National Radio Hall of Fame inducted Williams in 1999. He also appeared as number six on Talkers Magazine’s 2002 list of greatest radio talk show hosts.
Although Williams is primarily remembered as a radio host, he was a master of career reinvention. He served in the Korean War as an Air Force officer, then returned home to New Jersey to attend Newark State College (now Kean University) and after graduation, founded a preschool. He had stints driving ice cream and beer trucks and taxis. Williams’ career also detoured into sales (Christmas trees and insurance), business ownership (floral shop, car rentals, barber shop, night clubs). Additionally, Williams was very politically active and served as deputy mayor, township councilman and then mayor of Franklin, N.J.
Williams’ gift of gab also transferred to the page. He wrote six financial and real estate advice books and penned a syndicated advice column called Smart Money.