Monday, February 13, 2023

Jerry Baum


If you are a regular reader here, you know that I often refer to my "career" by saying "I am luckier than I deserve to be."   Let me tell you a little about that luck.

I started in college radio in 1979.  I landed an "off air" position at WARM while I was a sophomore, in 1981, and I started going out and covering news stories less than a year later.  It is said timing is everything, and I had my timing right, even though it was just dumb luck.

I was starting off in the business while a few of the pioneers in local radio and television were still around.  One was WBRE's Jerry Baum.  There were a few who weren't nice to this newbie, and I get that.  I can be difficult.  Not Jerry.  He was helpful, and professional.  For me, it was a kick getting to know one of the people who helped build the local industry.  The fact that he was so kind and friendly was icing on the cake.  Jerry could be a little grumpy at times.  That was part of his charm.

Jerry and I actually first met while I was in high school.  By then, he had shifted from 6 and 11 pm sports to a daytime news reporting shift.  He was sent to cover a "career" fair at one of the local colleges.  It was an embarrassingly disorganized mess.  I don't know who was supposed to do it, but the person who was slated to handle communications/broadcasting never showed, leaving me to wander about campus.  That's when Jerry and I had a few moments to chat.  Friends, believe me when I tell you that Jerry was the real deal.  What you saw on television was what you saw in person.  Jerry Baum was a nice, down to earth person-- a rarity in this business.

I'm glad I learned by watching-- on television, and when we bumped in to each other on the road.  I'm even more glad I knew him.  I was lucky.

Jerry Baum died Friday morning.  He was 88 years old.