For 35 years Piatt reveled in anchoring a morning show on talk WNIR with a quirky cast of regular callers and his own relentless sense of humor.
The show was never mistaken for anything on NPR. As he liked to say, “My sense of humor developed in the seventh grade in a locker room in Lodi and has just stayed there.”
.What really set his show apart was that, in an era when radio was becoming increasingly generic, he focused squarely on Akron. Piatt knew this place — its people, its places and its history — and he incorporated that knowledge into every segment.
Piatt and an array of news and sports sidekicks – most notably Jim Midock, Phil Ferguson and Steve French – consistently finished among the top three in the morning ratings books from the mid-1980s through the early ’90s.
His departure from WNIR was ugly. Shortly after his contract automatically renewed in 2013, he told the station owners he wanted to leave and move to Pittsburgh to live with a woman he had been dating.
He and the station fought a prolonged battle about his departure date, and when he finally drew a line in the sand, they fired him, informing him immediately after a random Tuesday show and depriving him of a chance to say goodbye to his listeners.
Although initially bitter, Piatt’s anger dissipated as the years passed. “I don’t hold any grudges against my old bosses,” he said in 2018. “They could have fired me several times and they didn’t. And we had some great years.”
When diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer in November 2017, doctors told Piatt he would last only six months. But after being bombarded with radiation and chemotherapy, the initial tumor shrunk.
During the past two months, though, the cancer returned with a vengeance, spreading to his spine, bones and brain.