Bob Mason, shock radio and candidate for the “Continuous Party”, dies at 72

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ALBANY — Bob Mason, a local radio DJ from the late 1970s to early 2000s, whose 1980s heyday as a morning host at WPYX-106.5 FM earned him rock star status and a such popularity with the public that the station’s contest line was blocked. state offices, died Sunday. He was 72 years old. A cause of death was not immediately available.

Born Roy Moon on June 22, 1949 and raised in Catskill, Bob Mason, as he was known personally and professionally, as a teenager built his own radio transmitter and broadcast on a police frequency, in a tradition repeated enough to let it be accepted, and perhaps real, the truth. It was the first of many times Mason clashed with authority figures for his radio antics.

At other times over the decades, it’s been for dazzling politicians, smashing a soda bottle through his office wall before quitting just as his show aired at 6 a.m., asking during a visit to Disney World where he might find Walt’s cryogenically frozen body. Disney, sued by the “winner” of an ugly bride pageant and running for governor as a member of what he called the Continuous Party.

“Bob was a star. He was irreverent and creative, but he was also smart. He knew how to win over listeners,” Ted Utz said Monday. Utz was hired in 1980 to turn what was then an easy-listening station into the rock-focused PYX 106. Mason, the afternoon host at rival WFLY-92.3 FM, was “the enemy”, Utz said, but Mason recognized a growing adversary and early the following year walked into the offices of PYX 106 with a white flag, signaling surrender. He was hired that day to reinforce the morning presence of PYX 106.

“Bob tripled the morning grades in a few months,” said Utz, who now lives in Larchmont, Westchester County. “Pretty soon the station was number one in everything by far,” Utz said. With Mason in the morning and Utz doing the afternoon time slot, within a year, “WPYX had the highest audience share of any FM station in America!” Utz wrote in a Facebook reminiscence.

“He was very talented – someone who understood his demographics and his audience,” said Joe Condon, public affairs director and weekend morning host for Latham-based B95.5 FM. In January, Condon will celebrate his 60th birthday on local radio.

Despite Mason’s exuberant, boundary-pushing on-air style, Condon said, “I’ve always found him personally very personable.”

When Mason was hired by PYX 106, in a time long before the internet and social media divided audiences, “the stars in any city were the big station DJs and the 6 p.m. news anchors. “Utz said. “Bob quickly became one of the greats.”

Mason liked to say he was 30 before he was paid over $15,000 in radio. His salary hit six figures in 1987, he told the Times Union that year. It was the reward for consistently high ratings, whether his co-host was Cliff Nash, who had at least two stints alongside Mason in the 1980s, or Bill Sheehan, who essentially traded places with Nash over the years. years, but which ended up being Mason’s longest. airline partner, which lasted together, but not continuously, until the early 2000s.

Mason and his team were famous for their promotions and stunts. Their breakfast club meetings drew hundreds of people over meals washed down with pancakes and eggs at area restaurants. Summer remotes from Lake George and the Great Escape blocked traffic. He befriended Saratoga Dean Marylou Whitney, broadcasting from her estate during racing season. Recurringly, he would phone people for early wake-up calls asking them about their sex life or drinking habits, Mason ending the conversation with a signature phrase: “Say goodbye, dummy.” The late Dan Lynch, former editor and columnist for the Times Union, reported seeing Mason “in a tuxedo at the microphone of a fancy charity event delivering a rap number with a pair of women’s yellow silk knickers over his head” .

Listeners loved him, especially when he met leaders like Albany Mayor Thomas Whalen and Governor Mario M. Cuomo. “I’m really the common man when it comes to authority figures,” Mason told the Times Union in 1987. “People like that. They identify with that.”

He also influenced a generation of listeners, in and out of radio.

“For someone like me, who listened to him in high school and was obsessed with getting into the business, he was a larger-than-life star,” said co-host Brian Cody, 48. morning at GNA 107.7 with Chrissy Cavotta. since 2017 and at FLY 92 for a decade before that.

Local guitarist Mark Emanatian offered an online memento of Mason’s support for Ernie Williams, grandfather of the local blues scene, whose band, the Wildcats, included Emanation and played at PYX 106 sponsored events. another local musician, Phil Famiano, was a young Mason fan; Famiano’s band Rodeo Christ performed a PYX 106 anniversary concert in 1993. Famiano had a humorous encounter with Mason backstage that turned into a years-long acquaintance. Famiano said the pair would perform while Famiano was working as a produce manager at a supermarket and he would see Mason, in shorts and a t-shirt, pushing a grocery cart.

“He was always on a pedestal for me when I was a kid,” Famiano said Monday, “but later on he always had a joke, a joke for me. He was just a guy like you and me.”

Among those most influenced by Mason was Gary Locatelli, who in 1984 was working as housekeeping supervisor at a Johnstown hospital when he called on the Mason and Sheehan show claiming to be a long-lost Italian relative of Mason from Bayonne, NJ Nicknamed Uncle Vito Masonetti himself, saying Mason truncated the surname from his radio nickname.

Locatelli’s character became a hit with Mason and the public, leading early on to a clerkship at PYX 106 as a sidekick, then to his own weekly show, an afternoon driving slot during over a decade and a stint on WXXA-Ch. 23 as the host of a children’s show named Ranger Danger. Locatelli retired in 2015

“It all started when I called Bob’s show,” Locatelli said Monday.


“He was a celebrity, but he was also a good-hearted man,” Locatelli said, citing an example where Mason helped organize a lawyer who won a long-running settlement after Locatelli’s wife was injured at work.

Mason’s character was not always appreciated and his career had its low points.

In 1997, Mason, Sheehan, their show’s producer, and PYX 106 were sued for $800,000 by a Schenectady woman for intentionally inflicting emotional distress after naming her the “ugliest bride” in the area. the capital. The case ended in a confidential settlement in 2000.

Mason first left PYX 106 with Sheehan in 1991 in a pay dispute, returning 20 months later. In 1997, they jumped ship for a smaller station for a deal worth a combined $300,000 a year.

They then claimed in a $20 million lawsuit that the station’s owner, conglomerate Clear Channel, hired them not in hopes of having them build the station, but to pull them off in competition with the jock of syndicated shock Howard Stern, which broadcast locally on a sister. station. Referring to Clear Channel, Mason told The Times Union in 1999, “They tanked us.” He and Sheehan were bought out for around $190,000 and $90,000 respectively, according to court records.

After a radio stint in New Hampshire, Mason returned to the capital area, to WRCZ (94.5 FM), in 2001, reconnecting with Kevin Baker, who had been his producer since 1991, and Sheehan. Mason retired in 2004. In recent years, that distinctive voice has been heard most often by patrons of Capital Wine & Spirits in Albany’s Center Square neighborhood. Mason, still often wearing a leather jacket and his now silver hair, sold bottles and dispensed wisdom to patrons, whose young cohort probably had no idea the gritty baritone came from a radio legend.

Mason is survived by his wife of over 30 years, Sheila Moon. Funeral arrangements were unclear on Monday. Baker, owner of local company Trivia Nights Live, which grew out of his years with Mason and Sheehan, said he and Sheehan would plan a public memorial celebration. Details will be announced on facebook.com/TriviaNightsLive.

As of Monday afternoon, PYX 106 had released no statement on Mason’s death and had not responded to messages seeking comment. His morning hosts, Chris “Quinn” Laursen and Steve Cantara, who fill the slot Mason first got 40 years ago, posted photos on their show’s Facebook page labeled as “the Masons.” & Sheehan Days” but offered no comment or tribute.

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