Bob Furlow Was Great Representative of NBR
Over the past 50 years or so, few people have been better representatives of North Baton Rouge than Bob Furlow, the 1958 Istrouma grad and silver-tongued radio newsman and disc jockey at WLCS who was the No. 1 radio personality in this market in the 1960’s. He went on to have a successful career in radio station management and then as a public relations executive.
As a deacon in the Catholic church and teacher at Manresa, he had a powerful impact on many lives. Perhaps just as important was his founding of the Catholic television channel on cable and his hosting of a Christian television program that brought hope and inspiration to tens of thousands of local residents.
I first met Bob Furlow on a freezing cold fall night in 1964 in the press box at Memorial Stadium where he and Gene Nelson were broadcasting the Istrouma games to a live radio audience. The stadium was packed with 15,000 fans
but many more were listening at
home. They had
asked me to do an interview about the Istrouma student council. After the interview, Bob said, “We need a part-time newsman and disc jockey to work weekends at the station. If you’re interested, come by the station Monday and audition!” I went by the station, read some news stories off the AP wire, wrote a couple of stories, and then read a commercial. He and Gene Nelson hired me on the spot!
For a young man of 17, it was an extraordinary opportunity. WLCS was the top station in the market with 55 percent of the listening audience. They played Top 40 music and had a very strong news operation. Ken Booth was news director, and he and the news staff were serious journalists. They prided themselves in having the news first and having it right.
I got to sit at the feet of these talented newsmen and the popular disk jockeys whose production quality was equal to that in Houston and other major markets.
There were many special events, and Bob Furlow was always on the frontlines. His voice made listeners smile. It was a happy sound that made your day a little brighter.
Bob taught me about breath control, how to manage the board, how to write a news story, and how to stay out of the path of the fiery Gene Nelson, program director.
However, because of my ineptitude, I got many a tongue-lashing from Gene, who must have been a sailor during World War II. Gene, general manager Lamar Simmons, Bob Furlow, and all of the personnel at the station were people of great integrity and great talent.
Perhaps my greatest experience with Bob Furlow and the staff at WLCS was when Hurricane Betsy hit Baton Rouge with 92 mph winds. For three days, WLCS was the only media outlet still broadcasting, and people tuned to the station and held battery-operated radios close to their ears. It was then I realized how important our work truly was. And in all my years I’ve never been prouder than I was to be part of that broadcast team.
Over the years, Bob Furlow remained my mentor and friend. Just this year, he was deeply involved in the launch of the Chamber EBR’s new radio station, WSGX. How I wish we had his voice on that station, just as it was on “Winning wonderful WLCS”!
Good luck to Central High placekicker Lizzie Wicker this season. We hope she’ll be the first gal ever to score points for Central football.