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Influential radio executive Bob Ausfeld dies

Bob Ausfeld recalled

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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Longtime Capital Region radio executive Bob Ausfeld, center, is shown with Sean McMaster, left, and Richie Phillips of WGNA's "The Sean and Richie Show." Ausfeld died Sunday.
Longtime Capital Region radio executive Bob Ausfeld, center, is shown with Sean McMaster, left, and Richie Phillips of WGNA's "The Sean and Richie Show." Ausfeld died Sunday.

— The average local listener might not be aware of his name, but Bob Ausfeld, who died Sunday from complications due to heart surgery, ranks high among those affecting Capital Region radio.

“At some point or another in a point in history, he touched all the stations in town,” said John Cooper, the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame program director and on-air personality for PYX-106.

Added Sean McMaster of “The Sean & Richie Show” on WGNA: “There isn’t anyone in the Capital Region, whether they know it or not, who has not been affected by Bob.”

Ausfeld, of Niskayuna, was praised by those who knew him as a rarity in the harsh business of radio: An executive who genuinely cared for the on-air talent and off-air staff. The affection for the longtime local executive who led powerhouses such as PYX-106 and WGNA was evidenced throughout social media Sunday into Monday after news surfaced that he had died at age 64.

Outside of radio, he dabbled in politics — but only briefly.

Ausfeld served as Niskayuna town supervisor in 1988 and 1989 before resigning, town Comptroller Paul Sebesta said Monday.

“He was a good businessman. He was very professional and organized,” Sebesta recalled.

He said Ausfeld resigned because he never thought he was going to win election and “didn’t have the time” to fulfill his obligations as supervisor.

Ausfeld’s radio career in the region proved much more lengthy, spanning more than four decades and stretching from the old WPTR-AM to K-Lite, PYX and WGNA. When he died, he was general manager of Albany Broadcasting, the six-station group that includes Fly-92.

“Albany Broadcasting was blessed to have had Robert ‘Bob’ Ausfeld as part of our family over the last few years,” Chairman and CEO James J. Morrell said in a statement. “Bob was truly a local radio legend; his vast knowledge and experience from working in radio for 42 years could not be matched. He managed with honesty, integrity and humor and was beloved by his staff. He could always crack a joke or throw a quick wink and a sly grin to help ease your nerves. He will be greatly missed and his legacy will live on.”

Through mergers and acquisitions and various station groupings, Ausfeld was a constant.

“Today we lost the King, Bob Ausfeld,” Bob Wohlfeld, aka Wolf of “Wakin’ Up with the Wolf” of PYX-106 lore, wrote on his Facebook page Sunday. “I owe my time in radio to that man. He was a man of great humor and had a big heart. They do not make them like him anymore.”

Ausfeld is credited with overseeing debuts of legendary shows such as Wolf, Mason and Sheehan (PYX) and Sean & Richie (WGNA), among others.

McMaster talked of his close relationship with Ausfeld, nicknamed by some “The Bobfather.” McMaster wrote on Facebook Sunday that “had I been a girl four years ago Bob would have been the person walking me down” the aisle at his wedding.

“He had a lot of respect from everybody, myself included,” Cooper said. “He really made a connection and had great leadership skills. Even if you didn’t agree with him, his points were very well taken — and he was usually proven right.”

Local radio stations and personalities debated Monday how to honor Ausfeld. They decided a minute of dead air across the Capital Region dial at 8 this morning would be the best way to illustrate Ausfeld’s impact, and how he will be missed.

 
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