Editor’s Note: No list of Amsterdam’s all-time top broadcasters could be accurate or complete without the name “Bob Cudmore” at the very top. I’ve had both the extreme pleasures of listening to his smooth baritone and reading his wonderful newspaper columns and books for a large part of my life, but it has been only recently that I’ve gotten to know this Amsterdam native better as a person and that has been the biggest pleasure of all. His long-running Contact interview and call-in show on WGY was a classic and then his decade long tenure at WVTL hosting Coffee With Cudmore made him what I like to call “the official voice of Amsterdam”. So thank you Bob Cudmore for so many treasured listening memories and for taking the time to prepare and contribute the following Top Ten list:
Joe Spencer was the son of WCSS owner Phil Spencer. Joe became a television correspondent for ABC news. He died in a 1986 helicopter crash while on his way to cover a strike in Minnesota. ABC television anchor Peter Jennings and a young Bill O’Reilly spoke at Joe’s funeral in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam native Chet (Kukiewicz) Curtis became a 30-year Boston television news anchor, teamed with his second wife, Natalie Jacobsen. They ultimately divorced. Curtis moved on to New England Cable News. He died in 2014 and was buried at Amsterdam’s St. Stanislaus Cemetery.
Todd Pettingill started at WCSS in 1968 and became a top-rated, outrageously funny talent at FLY 92 in Albany. For over 25 years Pettengill has entertained on WPLJ radio in New York City. He’s also been an interviewer on Worldwide Wrestling Federation television.
Lloyd Smith was born in Albany and became morning host for WCSS for many decades, starting in 1969. Quick with a joke, knowledgeable about the local scene, dependable and a music aficionado, Smith also was a radio engineer. He died in 2014.
Bill Pope came to Amsterdam in 1961 after years as a popular rock disc jockey in Albany. Pope retooled his career and became a big band disc jockey, talk host and promoter of worthwhile local causes. In his years at WCSS he was also a radio salesman and mentor to young broadcasters.
Amsterdam-born Tom Stewart worked at local radio station WAFS. Stewart has appeared in movie and television roles. He has been the longtime off camera voice and on camera fund raiser for New York City public television station WNET.
Dorothy Johnson Hale was an account executive and copywriter at WCSS who hosted a program called Woman’s World in the 1960s. Hale provided recipes, fashion news and advice on her program. Hale’s daughter Diane later married WCSS morning host Lloyd Smith.
Sam Zurlo had a newspaper career as a Mohawk Valley reporter for the Daily Gazette. Zurlo also worked in radio and his call-in talk show is still a staple on WCSS.
World War II Polish freedom fighter and Amsterdam beer distributor Richard Bartyzel hosted the nightly Polka Party on WCSS radio for many years. When you walked through a Polish neighborhood on a summer night, you could hear polka music coming from many open windows.
Dusty Miller (Elmer Rossi) always had a day job and a country and western band. Miller was a fixture on Amsterdam radio through the years with live and recorded music. When he died, he was buried wearing his colorful cowboy clothes
Many others could be on the list of top Amsterdam broadcasters. Here are some honorable mentions, in alphabetical order: morning host Carl Bahn, Albany rocker Boom Boom Brannigan who later did an Amsterdam talk show, WRGB and WTEN news director Don Decker, early WCSS manager Walt Gaines, KDKA-TV street reporter Ralph Iannotti in Pittsburgh, “Swap Shop” Joe Isabel, Italian show host Joe Mason, Albany sportscaster Rip Rowan, NBC radio news anchor Neal Seavey, WCSS owner Phil Spencer and WRGB weatherman Tim Welch.
Editor’s note: This certainly is an outstanding list of professionals; well known folks who made magic with their microphones. I’d also add a third member of Amsterdam’s talented Spencer family to the names mentioned above. Phil Spencer Jr’s dee-jaying and sports commentating work at WCSS were much appreciated and admired. There’s also John Allen, a wonderful actor in many of Bert DeRose’s Amsterdam stage productions, who also worked for many years as a news correspondent and weekend anchor at Channel 13 in Albany. Also, Amsterdam native Lee Richey, who was the WCSS music director for a spell and then went out to the western part of New York State and became one of the most popular C&W deejays in the Northeast.