His nightly program, "Raiford at Random" on WBT in the early 50's was when I first heard of him...and instantly became a fan.
As a member of Mr. Balance's "radio class" at Central High, I personally proposed that we invite Bob to speak to our class. I had no idea if he would or not, but I wanted the chance to have an excuse to meet the DJ I so admired. He accepted.
I still remember part of his talk to our class, at one point he quoted "keats....or Shelley," he said "I don't remember which, but he wrote, "I'm a part of all that I have met...."
That's all I remember of his talk...but personally I had met a man....some of whose talent I was hoping would rub off on me.
As a fledgling DJ and radio announcer myself, I became an instant admirer and fan of his. His choice of music was impeccable. His "patter" was different from anything I had ever heard on the air. It was...for a better word...."sophisticated." Highbrow, if you will....but down to earth at the same time.
And his voice? Classic old time radio announcer quality...but with sincerity and conviction to spare.
I was very happy and.....honored that Bob and I became friends.
Those two virtues, sincerity and conviction was what got him in trouble. That and the pure love of radio got in the way of the his otherwise steel trap mind. He would have made a great lawyer. That, in fact, was what he was studying to be....when through a quirk of fate, and an absolutely golden voice pushed him into a totally different direction...a field that was just about the same age as he was.....radio.
As much as he loved radio, his dislike of, in his opinion, mis-directed management of the medium, tended to "drive him over the edge." And yes, I'm talking about that time he blew out the control room window of WTOP radio in Washington with a firecracker. (But in all honesty, that had more to do with too much whiskey and good natured monkey-shines among "good buddies" than anything else.)
The big boss (Meester Big....of WTOP) at the station believed that. too. And although Bob was fired for that incident....he was "re-hired" not long afterward.
Bob didn't have a mean bone in his body. But yes, some of his antics wound up appearing mean spirited, they never started out that way.
I consider Bob one of my oldest and best friends. I will miss him very much.