2018-04-05 / Around Town

Conversation with Bobb Angel, the Voice of Newport

By Jocelyn O’Neil

Bobb Angel of Newport's WADK has now surpassed legendary Salty Brine's 51 years of broadcasting on the radio. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) Bobb Angel of Newport's WADK has now surpassed legendary Salty Brine's 51 years of broadcasting on the radio. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) Finding a Newporter who hasn’t heard Bobb Angel’s voice would be a difficult task. Since 1967, Angel has reigned over the local airwaves from WADK, covering local high school and Salve Regina University sports. Every weekday, from 6 to 9 a.m., he co-hosts "The Morning Show" with Jacob Sullivan.

Born and raised in Newport, Angel is a 2010 inductee into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame, one of the six Halls-of-Fame for which he has been selected, and is a seven-time “Rhode Island Sportscaster of the Year.”

Angel sat down with Newport This Week and talked about his career in radio, his favorite sports teams and if he is ready to retire after working at the station for 51 years.

What led you to a career in radio?

I saw an ad for a broadcasting school in Barrington. It was called the Rhode Island School of Broadcasting. I was halfway through the course and [they] sent the best students or those with the most potential out into the field [to] get job experience. It was a station called WALE in Fall River [Massachusetts], and that was in February of 1967. Within six months I was fired, but I got the job with WADK in June… Three or four months later, I got fired for not being good enough. Very soon after, I ended up doing an interview at WADK, when they were located in Middletown, and they hired me on the spot. I’ve been here ever since.

Who is your radio role model and who has influenced you the most?

I don’t think I honestly had a role model. I didn’t try to pattern myself after anyone… I can’t say that anyone ever did strike me in that fashion. My thing is just to be myself and roll with that, and hope that it’s good enough.

What’s your favorite part about living in Newport?

It’s easy. I was born here, went to school here. You know, like I said before, it just kind of fell into place: the job, the life, whatever came along with it. I didn’t really have any big-time dreams. I didn’t want to go to Providence or Boston or New York. I liked where I was.

How have you adapted to the technology changes since you

started in 1967? How are you with social media? Is there any technology that you can’t believe you worked without?

[Co-workers can be heard laughing from the other offices]. Stop laughing, Jacob! The joke about me is that I was taken kicking and screaming to get the typewriter away from me. Oh man, that’s been tough. It’s been an adjustment. There’s definitely a generational gap. Not very literate with technology. It’s an ongoing challenge. I read Facebook, but I don’t participate on Facebook, except for the posts I do for my station job. The computer has made the process of writing and putting together a show [more streamlined].

Tell me about an accomplishment that you consider to be the

most significant in your career.

Fundraisers and various charity events we publicize, that is on a recurring regular basis. The dayto day bringing of the news. I see that as more of an accomplishment than a big project. After 50 years, people want to get to know you and kind of expect things from you. I make sure they get what they expect. Whether it’s a baseball game, football game or the morning show, if I can do that on a consistent basis, I’ve done my job.

What Aquidneck Island sports team sticks out to you in the past year?

There are so many teams that I deal with. I get a lot of enjoyment from the simple things. You don’t have to have that championship scenario to enjoy a broadcast. Everything I do, I try to do balanced and have the community see everything that’s out there. I go to one or two football games a week and two or three basketball, or baseball games a week. I try to give equal coverage to all the teams on the island.

I read in an article that your favorite game to watch is girls’ softball. Is that true?

I would agree with that. There is just a different energy there. People are laughing and having more fun than at most games I go to… It has a different flavor to it.

How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?

That’s not just me, that’s the whole station’s job. I do think it starts from the top. Our station owner, Bonnie Gomes, is the seventh owner since I’ve been around and no one has had that kind of understanding of what type of station we are, what we can be doing and should be doing. Whatever it is, it starts at the top.

What do you think of Newport’s broadcast media?

It needs a 24-hour radio station. We acquired our license in 1948 and it was a limited license that said the station could only be on from sunrise to sunset… But I think it’s time to expand to 24 hours a day.

Do you think that media is trying to manipulate events in our life with “fake news?”

You want to get into that, huh? Well, I don’t. [He laughs]. I have no opinions in that regard. I simply know this aspect from WADK and how it serves the community. There is nothing that we have to do with anything close to that. We do what we do.

How has broadcast media changed over the years?

The technology. You couldn’t tell me that in 1968 I’d be using computers and even be here to see 2018. [He laughs].

Do you have a problem listening to your own voice? If so, how did you get over it?

I don’t know that I have. Growing up, I had a stutter develop in seventh grade. There were points when it was very obvious. I could talk myself into a stutter. I think it was a combination of nerves and lack of confidence. As far as getting over it, I think it was a matter of time and just getting used to the work I was doing. There are still sometimes when it comes back, but it’s not as bad as when I was younger.

What's next?

I don’t travel, I don’t read, I’m not retiring [he laughs], so there is no end in sight.

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