Hear Podcasts From Previous Shows Below - Use Live Stream At Right To Hear Live Shows - Toll Free 877-297-8022

Sunday, April 7, 2013

RIP Bill Haig, One Of My Radio Influences - 4/6

When I was nearing the end of my radio career at 21, I was in a meeting, by accident, with the Vice President of Broadcasting with the Milwaukee Brewers. He said they were looking for a producer to travel with the team.  I raised my hand. A week later I was sitting next to Bob Uecker in the booth, and started a job which was two of the coolest years you could ask for.  If you put together a list of the people who made me always want to do this after being out of the business 30 years, Bill would be on that short list.  I traveled to every American League city twice a year for two years and ran the team's radio broadcasts. I set up the equipment before each game, then packed it up in two large cases and took it down to the clubhouse.  I got on the team bus and either went to the hotel or to the airport on "getaway" day.  The guy who replaced me still has the job, if you want some idea of what a great job it is.  I visited the press box last summer in Milwaukee and they made me as welcome as ever.  When I lived in Brookfield, Wisconsin I would see Bill at Mass from time to time and say hello.

If you are doing something you like, figure out a way to hang on to it somehow, and don't kick it down the road 30 years like I did.

Rest in peace, Bill Haig.  Thanks for the job.  Go Brewers.

Bill Haig, a major figure in Milwaukee broadcasting who bolstered WTMJ radio's reputation for sports coverage and later ran the Milwaukee Brewers' broadcast operations for almost two decades, died Saturday. He was 78.
Haig, of Oak Creek, had been ill in recent years and was in hospice care, according to his wife of 54 years, Naomi. He was surrounded by family when he died.
"Radio was his great love," Naomi Haig said.
Haig was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 1997, the year he retired from the Milwaukee Brewers. He called himself "the luckiest man in the world."
"I have had the opportunity to work in the radio business, which I dearly love, for the past 43 years and the people that I have worked with have made it very special," he said when he announced his plans.
Haig, who grew up in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, attended Pius XI High School and Marquette University, his wife said.
He began his career in advertising sales in 1954 at WFOX in Waukesha and eventually rose to general manager of WIGL-AM in Superior/Duluth and WTMJ-AM (620) in Milwaukee. WTMJ became the flagship station for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Green Bay Packers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers football and basketball teams during his 16 years there, according to his Hall of Fame biography.
In 1980 he became the Milwaukee Brewers' vice president of broadcast, overseeing production, advertising sales and networking for the club's broadcast networks until his retirement.
Haig was known across the state for his tireless work ethic, his encouragement of young broadcasters and his understanding of what sports meant to people.
"He was a good general manager because he understood the essence of TMJ radio and why it was so important to listeners," said Steve Smith, chairman and CEO of Journal Communications, the parent company of WTMJ and the Journal Sentinel. Smith worked for Haig after joining the station as an advertising sales rep in 1976.
"He was so important to so many of us," Smith said. "He was the kind of guy who always had the light on at night. You could go in after work, sit down and talk with Bill about radio for hours."
Steve Wexler, executive vice president of Journal Broadcast Group and WTMJ vice president and general manager, also worked for Haig early in his career.
He said Haig was a tough businessman and a kind, thoughtful leader. He also had a keen understanding of the importance of sports.
"It wasn't just a game on the radio, but part of the fabric of the community," Wexler said. "And building the Brewers' radio network - what that meant to the state - that was all Bill," he said.
Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball and a former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, called Haig "a great human being" who would be missed as part of the Brewers family.
"Bill was a leader in his profession and set a high standard for others to follow. From his leadership at WTMJ, where he developed its strong sports image as a flagship station for the Milwaukee Brewers and other teams, to his outstanding work as vice president of broadcasting for the Brewers, Bill was a respected friend and colleague," Selig said in a statement released Sunday. "We extend our condolences to his family."
Haig married Naomi Schultz on his birthday, May 31, in 1958, and they had three daughters: Susan Haig, Juliann Belanger and Karen Halvorson, who died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 43.
"He was so proud of his girls - I don't believe he ever met a person and didn't mention their accomplishments," Naomi Haig, 75, said of her husband, calling him the love of her life. "And he always carried around pictures of his grandchildren to show everybody. He was a very good family man. He was a very good man."

No comments:

Post a Comment