Talk radio veteran Steve Fitz was remembered Monday by family, friends and business associates as a gracious, talented and compassionate man.
Fitz died Sunday after a brief illness. He was 84.
A lifelong Schenectady resident and World War II veteran, Fitz hosted WSNY’s “Party Line,” the area’s first local radio call-in show, from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s. During the early 1970s, he was the head of WGY’s successful “Contact” call-in program and also worked on-air at WGY from 1989 until 1991.
He spent time behind the microphone at WQBK and also worked as a television host on WMHT.
At 65, Fitz retired from full-time radio and took a community relations position with The Eddy, a network of diversified care services for the elderly. He held that position for nearly 10 years.
During his retirement, he did commercials for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and voice-overs for the Golub Corp. Up until last Wednesday, he participated in Bob Cudmore’s morning talk show on WVTL (1570-AM) in Amsterdam. His final commentary can be found as a podcast on wvtlfm.com.
“He had a great fund of knowledge,” Cudmore said. “He was really interested in all things having to do with the news and was able to talk very ably and quickly, and make his point and respond.”
Fitz traveled widely with his wife, Peggy, who died in 2009.
“You could talk to Steve about China and he’s been to China, and he’s been to Europe and he’s been to Africa and all these places, and I think it added a lot to his credibility,” Cudmore said.
Cudmore also remembered Fitz as a person who cultivated talented people.
“I think it’s correct to say he hired Don Weeks. He hired a guy named Bill Duffy, who became a great television journalist. I think he even hired Don Decker, who was news director at WRGB for a time.”
People often asked what Fitz was like off-air, recalled his son Steve Fitz Jr. “Basically he was that [same] person off the air. There was no alter ego or on-mic personality or off-mic personality. They were pretty much the same thing,” he said.
Fitz remembers his father as a gracious man who helped others who shared his profession.
“He was one of the nice guys of what’s left in media,” he said. “He was somewhat selfless and was sensitive to those folks in media who were having their struggles and their challenges.”
Some people called his father wishy-washy because of his conversational, non-confrontational style, Fitz remembered.
“As time went on, talk radio got to be a little more acerbic and opinionated and he grew up in an era when it was more of an Arthur Godfrey — that type of show — and it was a conversation.”
Tom Maley, public relations representative for Stewart’s Shops, who worked with Fitz at WQBK, said, “He was always very well informed and said [things] in a way that everyone could understand what he was saying, and that’s really hard to do.”
Joe Condon, public affairs director at Albany Broadcasting, co-emceed events with Fitz. “I remember him as an extremely gracious man. He was a great emcee. Although he was a star, he never came across as one,” he said.
State Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, who frequently appeared on Fitz’s radio program on WQBK, said Fitz was one of the nicest people he ever met. “He was bright, humble, compassionate, could talk to you on any subject and had the perfect voice for radio. He was just a special part of my life,” he said.
Funeral services will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Daly Funeral Home, 242 McClellan St. Calling hours, which will precede the service, will begin at 4 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be private.
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