Mornings With Stan

From my first day in kindergarten until my last day of high school, it was not just my mother who got my brothers and me up and out of the house every morning. Stan Neuberger helped. Stan did the morning show on WEKZ, the radio station in my hometown of Monroe, Wisconsin. When he began to read the local news, we knew we’d better be getting dressed by then. Ten minutes later, when he started reading the sports, we’d better be having breakfast. Five minutes after that, he’d introduce Earl Nightingale’s five-minute commentary “Our Changing World,” and we’d better be ready to catch the bus by the time it was over. The routine was so precise and regular that there was no need to look at the clock—a radio lesson I never forgot.

I met Stan a time or two during my brief flirtation with WEKZ in 1976, but I never got to work with him. Nevertheless, he influenced me. By the time I reached my 30s, and I after had abandoned the fantasy of working in a big market, I began to think that the best of all possible radio jobs might be “21st Century Stan”—to be the morning guy on WEKZ myself, waking up the farmers and the school kids, thereby completing the circle that had begun when I was a kid. What an honorable calling, to be such an integral part of so many lives.

Stan answered that calling all his life. After he officially retired, he continued to host a few programs at WEKZ, even after a stroke changed the familiar sound of his voice, because that’s what old radio guys do. At WEKZ, he was one of the oldest—he was an original employee of the station, having come there as program director when it went on the air in July of 1951. And last week, Stan died at age 86. His funeral is today.

They aren’t making radio men like that anymore, but their impact is forever. Those of us still in the business, who try each day to do our best, who try to have a positive impact on the people who tune in, are standing on the shoulders of radio men like that.

Shameless Self-Promotion Department: I am trying mightily to tweet everything I write over at WNEW.com, but I am not always able to do it in a timely fashion. So if you are interested in my daily Rock Flashback posts (some of which I’m quite proud of), click here. On Tuesdays I write something called “Five Things About . . .”, which you can find here. I’ll be adding yet another feature at WNEW.com within a few weeks. More about that one when the time comes.

And with that, we’re taking a brief hiatus at this blog. I’ll be updating Twitter and Facebook, but that’s all until next week. Go play outside.

4 responses

  1. I attended Stan’s funeral today and the pastor said something that was quite true about Stan. Much of what I knew about him came from other people as Stan was a very humble man…he rarely ever talked about himself. It was Stan who hired me to work at WEKZ back in 1992. I spent seven years working there and those were seven of the most enjoyable years I’ve spent in radio. Stan was always quick with a joke and brought a smile and a laugh that would light up any room. Stan was a great athlete, a Sunday school teacher, a member of the Monroe City Council, was voted Monroe Senior Citizen of the year in 1990 and served as a Grand Marshall for the Monroe Cheese Days Parade this past September.

    Stan did a morning radio show, news and sports, and sales. He was there when Monroe won the single-class boys State Basketball championship in 1965. He once told me he went onto the floor of the UW Fieldhouse with “a transmitting device the size of a pack of cigarettes” to report the celebration back to play-by-play announcer George McKeown. When original owners Willard and Edwin Schuetze passed away in the 1970s, he and broadcast partner Joe Urban purchased their shares of WEKZ and became owners. At some radio stations, the owner was someone who always reminded you (and members of the business community) that they owned the radio station. Stan was not one of those type of owners. I’ve often said that Stan just happened to own the station he worked for.

    Stan’s health began to deteriorate after 2000 and he was moved to a nursing home just two weeks ago. He was there just six days before he passed away. Stan’s son, Tim, told me that Joe Urban visited him at the nursing home last Friday, so it was only fitting that Joe was the last person to see him. Joe once talked about another WEKZ employee, Bob Frings, who passed away in 1994 and said something that also fits Stan perfectly…”Conservative? Yes, but only in his politics. Stan was as liberal in his love for people as you could possibly imagine.”

    Thank you, Stan, for giving me a great place to work. Thank you for your smile and your laugh. But, most of all, thank you, Stan, for being a friend to all of us and being a part of our lives. You touched the lives of soooo many.

  2. […] and this year we did plenty. We paid tribute to a trio of deceased personalities (here and here and here). We noted a couple of remarkably lame moments in the history of American Top 40 (here and here), […]

  3. Just now learning of Stan’s passing. I had the greatest oportunity any Brodhead High School kid could ever have; my summer job was working at WEKZ. That was in the summer of ’75, betweeen my junior & senior year. And I had an FCC license.Studied like crazy and went to Madison to take the test. I passed. FCC Third Class with the Broadcast Endorsement. This was a REQUIREMENT to work on the radio back in the day!
    After working at WEKZ, I knew that being on the radio is what I wanted to do for a career. I had a blast learning to “run the board” for Milwaukee Brewers baseball games… and the butterflies waiting for that cue: “let’s pause 10 seconds for station ID on the Milwaukee Brewers Radio Network” – that’s when I got to crack open the mic for my first on-air break – “this is WEKZ, Monroe” in a shaky high schooler voice. That was only the beginning. I did whatever shifts I could that summer. I even mowed the front lawn at the Chalet in the Valley, by the banks of the Mighty Richland.
    Stan was one of the great people who influenced me, helped me, worked with me and showed me radio. Stan and Joe Urban were so great to work with. Also worked with Bob Frings, Leo the Engineer, Don Jacobson, Rich G, and Brown Institute grad Jim O’Hara (who’s now a market mgr in the Quad Cities).
    And I pursued the radio career. Went to Brown, got my Second Class, then First Class FCC license, graduated and haven’t looked back. I’ve been riding the ever-changing tides of the business over the years, and somehow still surviving in an industry where many have given up. Been to the “big market.” Now doing the morning show in a small town in the Colorado mountains. Have been at this radio station for almost 9 years, waking up the community and letting kids know if it’s a snow day. I can only aspire to be the Colorado version of Stan. Rest in Peace, my friend.

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