Friday, March 3, 2017

R.I.P.: Longtime D-C Radio Personality Fred Fiske

Fred Fiske, who entertained and informed generations of listeners with a gentlemanly personality and a pleasing tenor voice that he parlayed into the longest-running career in Washington radio history, died March 2 at a hospice center in Columbus, Ohio.

He was 96, according to The Washington Post.  The cause was congestive heart failure.

Fiske’s 64 years behind a radio microphone in Washington began just before the television age dawned, and spanned 12 presidential administrations. He first went on the air in Washington in 1947, when the city had fewer than 10 radio stations. He retired in 2011, when audio programming was delivered via satellites and the Internet.

Fred Fiske 1954
Fred Fiske 1976
Mr. Fiske started as an announcer on WOL-AM and on the national radio version of “Meet the Press” on the Mutual Broadcasting Network. He subsequently became a pop-music disc jockey, nightly talk-show host and political commentator during an almost unbroken stretch that continued until his last commentary aired on WAMU 88.5 FM on Sept. 27, 2011.

WOL, a station with a tiny 250-watt signal, gave him a tryout. He spent 30 years on the station and its successor, WWDC-AM, before moving to WAMU in 1977.

After serving as an Army Air Forces radioman in Europe during World War II, Mr. Fiske found his way to Washington and became a DJ and morning “drive” personality at WWDC, offering light banter and the music of Perry Como, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney, among others.

He told an assistant to call officials at the Memphis Draft Board, where Presley reported. “This is WWDC in Washington calling,” the assistant said. “Put Elvis Presley on the line.” Apparently thinking “WWDC in Washington” was related to the Department of Defense, Presley’s military superiors complied, and soon Mr. Fiske was chatting on the air with Presley.

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