In Memoriam – Harlyn “Hal” Fisher

hal-fisher.jpg Hal Fisher, the first Vice President and General Manager of WHK and WMMS under Malrite Broadcasting passed away on December 23.

Hal relocated from Malrite’s Rochester, New York stations – a daytime AM and a beautiful music format FM – following the license transfer of WHK and WMMS from Metromedia to Malrite. Hal grew up and attended college in South Dakota and started his radio career as a sports announcer in Youngstown. Later, he moved into programming and sales management and, for a brief time hosted a children’s TV show in South Bend, Indiana.

Hal was a conservative Republican and a lay church leader, but never let his personal beliefs get in the way of managing WHK and WMMS. He supported and never questioned WMMS, whose format and content provided the soundtrack to a period of unprecedented social change in America. He never criticized what he didn’t understand.

Despite a photo in his office showing Hal shaking hands with President Nixon at a private reception, he approved, without question, a print ad for WMMS, which promoted a Sunday night WMMS broadcast of The National Lampoon Radio Hour’s Nixon Impeachment Special. It’s even more startling. This was the only time we were granted approval for a paid print ad that year.
Hal signed off on the hiring of most of the original WMMS on-air and support staff during 1973 through mid-1974, which included Jeff Kinzbach, Ed “Flash” Ferenc, Matt the Cat, Kid Leo, Betty Korvan, Larry Bole, Debbie Ullman, Donna Halper, Walt Tiburski, and yours truly.

For more information on Hal Fisher, see Chapter 5 of The Buzzard.

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5 Responses to “In Memoriam – Harlyn “Hal” Fisher”

  1. Greg Perdue Says:

    Thanks for the comments about Hal.
    Hal was the best friend that I ever had. Hal lived a full life and was a very kind man. Hal was loved by everyone. He will always remembered by smile and positive attitude.
    I met Hal in 1974 and I talked to him within 2 hours of his death.
    Hal was always the voice of reason and care. In the over 30 years that I knew Hal, we never argued or had a disagreement. Hal always said that I was his adopted son. He and Marge had a room in their home that was know as “Greg’s Room” since 1992. I want you to know that it is a big role to be loved by Hal that much. Hal loved sports and loved to travel and he loved to eat ice cream. Hal drove to Rochester NY several times this year and drove to Myrtle Beach in September. Several years ago, I got a Cleveland phone number, so Hal could call me anytime he wanted to. I usually talked with Hal about 3 or 4 times a day. He was wonderful writer and had a wonderful vocabulary. I wanted to get his writings published. Hal seemed to be almost ready to publish some of his writings. Maybe you could help the family with his writings, please talk to Diane. When Hal’s son in law called and told me the news, I was crushed. It was like when my Mother and her Mother died, you are devastated and you lose all reason.
    I am proud of my relationship with Hal, I just wish it could have been longer.

    Greg Perdue
    greg.perdue@earthlink.net
    205 413-8166 Birmingham AL
    205 995-0360 fax
    205 837-8040 TMobile (Bham)
    904 686-0057 Jacksonville FL
    904 742-4161 verizon wireless (Jax)

  2. Greg Perdue Says:

    Greg Perdue Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    January 2, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for the comments about Hal.
    Hal was the best friend that I ever had. Hal lived a full life and was a very kind man. Hal was loved by everyone. He will always remembered by smile and positive attitude.
    I met Hal in 1974 and I talked to him within 2 hours of his death.
    Hal was always the voice of reason and care. In the over 30 years that I knew Hal, we never argued or had a disagreement. Hal always said that I was his adopted son. He and Marge had a room in their home that was know as “Greg’s Room” since 1992. I want you to know that it is a big role to be loved by Hal that much. Hal loved sports and loved to travel and he loved to eat ice cream. Hal drove to Rochester NY several times this year and drove to Myrtle Beach in September. Several years ago, I got a Cleveland phone number, so Hal could call me anytime he wanted to. I usually talked with Hal about 3 or 4 times a day. He was wonderful writer and had a wonderful vocabulary. I wanted to get his writings published. Hal seemed to be almost ready to publish some of his writings. Maybe you could help the family with his writings, please talk to Diane. When Hal’s son in law called and told me the news, I was crushed. It was like when my Mother and her Mother died, you are devastated and you lose all reason.
    I am proud of my relationship with Hal, I just wish it could have been longer.

    Greg Perdue
    greg.perdue@earthlink.net
    205 413-8166 Birmingham AL
    205 995-0360 fax
    205 837-8040 TMobile (Bham)
    904 686-0057 Jacksonville FL
    904 742-4161 verizon wireless (Jax)

  3. Dave Barber Says:

    John-

    I was aware of your book until I googled Hal. It sure looks like a good read and all of us who were in the busines in the mid 70’s know what a GREAT radio station WMMS was.

    Shortly after Hal left Malrite, he came to Michigan to serve as General Manager of WTRX AM. The station played music 19 hours a day, but there was this very popular evening telehone talk show Hal inherited. When the host left for WSB Atlanta in 1976, Hal made me new host. I was just 21 and the youngest radio talk show host in the country. That break, and the faith Hal had in me as a young broadcaster led to a wonderful career in talk radio of over 30 years.

    We both shared a love of public speaking and often compared notes about our presentation and what speaches we had pending. Both he and Marge were always very kind to me and I am sure Hal will be sadly missed. His daughter Gayle called me last week with the news.

    I wish for the entire Fisher family God’s speed. As for the rest of us, we’ll just have to, “Give ’em Hal!”

    Dave Barber
    Providence, RI
    Capitol Television

  4. After reading through the article, I just feel that I really need more information on the topic. Could you suggest some more resources please?

  5. Joyce Bardin Says:

    I have been wondering if Hal passed away. He was the General Manager for a Christian music station called WCRM and I worked there until the station was sold in 1989. That station was the best place I ever worked mainly because of Hal. He had a lot of wisdom and you learned never to give him an excuse.

    Hal then went to work at a station in New York called WMCA which is a part of Salem Broadcasting. I would call him from time to time to see how he was doing.

    I loved reading the “Give ’em Hal” columns that he would send to me.

    I’m know I will see him again because he professed Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

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