Thank You, Bob Balogh

Written by Miasha Lee

After ten years of giving listeners commentary, poetry and music on Monday mornings
from 6-9 a.m., Valley Free Radio programmer/host Bob Balogh of the Morning Roll has retired
and broadcast his final show on Nov. 14. “I’ve reached my age and threshold of energy, so it’s
time to retire,” stated Balogh. “It’s been a richly rewarding experience in the last ten years at
VFR. I’m hoping that by opening a space on Monday morning it will give someone else an
opportunity to start something artistically for them.”

Bob Balogh, in studio, waving goodbye. Photo by Miasha Lee


Balogh has been on a radio station every year since 1981. He was in the Marine Corps in
the late 60’s as a radio man in the Vietnam War calling airstrikes, resupplies and medevacs. He
attended Western Connecticut State University in the early 1980s, where he majored in theater
and joined the college’s radio station WXCI. From there went on to a bigger community station
in Bridgeport, CT known as WPKN for 30 years. Then transitioned to a station in Great
Barrington, MA called WBCR from 2004-2012. One of the programmers at WBCR informed
Balogh about a station they were doing some stuff in Northampton called WXOJ. He started
listening to the station and was attracted to what they were doing artistically so in 2012, he made
the move to Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP 103.3 FM Northampton.
“I’ve always been influenced by free form radio,” Balogh explained. I was really
attracted to the whole greater Northampton community, what was going on musically and it was
very fulfilling.”


Throughout his ten years at VFR, Balogh said he’s learned things along the way and has
evolved based on what he’s been influenced by over his entire lifetime. He credits WXOJ and the
greater Northampton area for being exposed to so much new music and new artists that he
otherwise would have never paid attention to. That gave him energy and the thrill of being on the
air alive.


“Bob brought a level of professionalism and gravitas to VFR,” said Board of Directors
member Mark Bove who’s been at the station since 2014. “He has an authority in his delivery on
air announcing the weather, time and news and does things you don’t expect of a morning show
with his wry commentary and humorous twists on obscure news events, the reading of his poems
and writings from his chapter books and occasionally, bad puns.”
Bove continued, “Bob has done a really good job of talking to his audience as if he was
talking to an individual listener. He strived to make a connection between the person in the booth
here at the station and the person listening. That will be a legacy for others to strive to do
throughout their shows.”


Lila Wolan-Jedziniak, one of the founding VFR members/programmers has been good
friends with Balogh for many years. She considers him as a surrogate father who’s always looked
after her best interest. “One thing I’ve learned after this year is that I realize the meaning of
friendship,” Jedziniak replied. “He’s a positive person with his own sense of humor. I admire his
work ethic and drive. Bob manages to pull through no matter what he’s going through, and I want
to be just like that 20 years from now in my life.” She went on to say, “Thank you Bob for the music. Thank you for keeping us informed of what’s going on in the community and thank you
for bringing some levity to the morning.”


VFR member/board treasurer Stefan Ward-Wheten said, “Bob has been a benefactor of
Valley Free Radio. His willingness and ability to contribute in various different ways that makes
him a model programmer and a model community member of a station like ours.”
Wheten was just starting out and had been a few months on the air when Balogh came to
the station. During that time, Wheten recalled VFR didn’t have as full of a roster as they do now.
The community of programmers was still pretty small and there were still large gaps in the
schedule that they were filling with Pacifica content or rebroadcast content. VFR didn’t have a
morning broadcast and the morning is traditionally an important time slot in radio because that’s
when a lot of people are in their cars driving and listening to the radio. For Balogh to get a big
time slot of three hours in the morning was a lot even on a community radio station, but
nonetheless he proved capable of keeping the momentum.


“Before Bob, we really didn’t have anything like that in its place,” Wheten responded. “After his show became a fixture on our calendar, we started trying to actively cultivate a regular
morning lineup which has been pretty successful. Bob started the week off on Monday mornings
and has connected us to a wider new audience.”


Wheten wants Balogh’s legacy at VFR to be his sensibility for bringing together various
aspects of his life, work, and interest into radio. His creativity in making all of these things fit
together. As well as being open and generous with his time, insight and experience with other
programmers, younger programmers especially. “That’s precisely what a station like Valley Free Radio is all about,” Wheten added. “It’s the kind of ethos that we really try to cultivate here, and, in some ways, I think it’s the reason we
all do this, but Bob just happens to exemplify it really well.”


Right now, Balogh is happy, content and has a plan. After leaving WXOJ, he’s
volunteering once a week at a station walking distance from where he lives in Pittsfield called
WRRS devoted to the blind and handicapped reading the newspaper for two hours live on the air.
He also has his own performance studio in Pittsfield where he has poetry readings and theatrical
performances on CTSB-TV (Community Television for the Southern Berkshires) in Lee, MA.
Balogh wants to be known as someone who appreciates his fellow broadcasters and learns from
each and every person that’s there.


“Preparation is the key to having a good radio show,” Balogh responded. “I just hope that
I presented myself as a good enough person to win somebody’s respect. I’m just glad that I was
able to be in a mellow frame of mind at this stage in my life where I could meet people at VFR
and be a good listener and a good friend.”


On behalf of all the members here at Valley Free Radio, we thank Bob Balogh for his
service.


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