August 12 – Happy Birthday Phil Spencer Sr.

Amsterdam really misses Phil Spencer Sr. He was the guy who transformed the WCSS Radio Station into an Amsterdam institution and maintained its standard of broadcasting excellence for three decades.

He was born Phillip Spalletta on Long Island on August 12, 1929. He grew up a rabid Brooklyn Dodger fan and attended Sewanaca High School, where he became a very good school-boy athlete. After graduating from Adelphi College, he started his career in radio as an announcer with a station in High Point, North Carolina. The station manager there told him his “Spalletta” surname wouldn’t play well in the south so together they came up with “Spencer” as his on-air name. When he told his father Joseph about the switch, the elder Spalletta drove all the way down to High Point to argue about it with his son’s boss, but to no avail.

He came north when he was hired by WENT Radio in Gloversville, where he met and married the love of his life, Francis Lomanto, in 1952. WCSS hired him as its sports director in 1958 and he was promoted to station manager soon thereafter. Phil Spencer Sr. was born for that job. He had a great eye for talent. Under his watch, the station hired personnel like Don Decker, Rip Rowan, Bill Pope, and Bill Saylor. That eye included an amazing gift for sifting out potential. He gave Lynch students Bob Cudmore, Chet Kukiewicz (aka Chet Curtis) and Todd Pettengill their starts in radio and made local guys like barber Joe Mason, beer distributor Richard Bartyzel and country band leader Dusty Miller radio legends within the station’s local market…

You can read more about Phil Spencer in the new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.”

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