In this week’s issue… Bill Parker, Binghamton’s broadcast dean – Tom Taylor remembers NJ owner Herb Hobler dies – Post-repack headaches in Boston, Philly – Catholic radio’s growth spurt – Arson damages Canadian FM
By SCOTT FYBUSH
Until just last year, you could visit Binghamton and meet both the engineer who signed on the city’s first TV station in 1949 and one of the station’s first (and biggest) on-air personalities. Engineer Gino Riciardelli died last year at 95 – and now Binghamton is also saying goodbye to its “dean of broadcasting,” Bill Parker, who died Thursday in Vestal at 91.
Parker, a native of Canastota, played in Army bands during World War II, spent a year at Columbia College in Chicago, then came to Binghamton’s WNBF radio in 1948 as a young announcer. With TV on the horizon, Parker was one of the announcers who helped put WNBF-TV (Channel 12) on the air, and he stayed with the stations for decades.
As with most announcers at small stations, Parker did a little of everything on Channel 12, including serving as the “Atlantic Weatherman” on the evening news, but he was best known for his service as the host of numerous kids’ shows – “TV Ranch Club” in the 1950s, before a strike at the station briefly sent him across town to WINR, then “Captain Galaxie” and “Officer Bill” after his 1960 return to WNBF-TV.
After the TV and radio stations split in 1972 and “Officer Bill” handed in his badge, Parker stayed on WNBF radio, hosting midday music and talk shows until his retirement in 1999. (And even then, he remained a regular voice on Binghamton’s airwaves, endorsing businesses and doing remotes now and then.)
Parker was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015 and was a regular at the Binghamton Broadcasters reunions.
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