Baltimore radio personality Bob Lopez, an iconoclastic newsman and talk-show host at 98 Rock (WIYY-FM) for 27 years and member of its popular Kirk, Mark & Lopez morning team, died of lung cancer yesterday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 52.
Mr. Lopez, who preferred to be called by his last name, had first informed
the station's listeners of his illness in an on-air interview from a hospital
bed 14 months ago.
Jean Lopez, his wife of 21 years, said he was listening to rock music and
cracking jokes until he lost consciousness a few hours before his death.
"His philosophy was to live life and not to live the cancer, and he did
that," she said. "He was just so direct with everything, so what you saw was
who he was."
Mrs. Lopez said one of her husband's last wishes was that everyone drink a
shot of tequila in his memory.
"He really battled up until the very end. We're all in awe," said Ed
Kiernan, vice president and general manager of WBAL-AM and WIYY. "He really
[was] part of the brick and mortar of 98 Rock. We accomplished so much with
"98 Rock has lost a family member and a friend today, and we'll all be
mourning," said Dave Hill, the station's program director. "Our airwaves will
never be the same."
"I think the one thing people might not realize is what a pioneer he was,"
said Chuck DuCoty, program director at 98 Rock from 1981-1991.
A graduate of the University of Maryland, Mr. Lopez joined 98 Rock in 1978
-- the station's second year on the air -- as the morning newsman, after three
years at WLMD in Laurel.
At that time, said Mr. DuCoty, most rock station newscasts consisted of
fluff about Mick Jagger's escapades or what Ted Nugent had shot while hunting.
"Lopez wrote about serious news and serious issues ... but he wrote it in a
way that the target audience -- specifically 18-to-24- year-old males --
liked," Mr. DuCoty said. "It resonated with those guys."
Soon, he said, it was Mr. Lopez rather than the disc jockeys who emerged as
the No. 1 personality at 98 Rock.
"I'd go out and do appearances at bars or remotes or concerts," Mr. DuCoty
said, "and invariably the person that people wanted to talk about was Lopez."
In the notoriously peripatetic world of radio, where job longevity can
sometimes be measured in days and buying a home is considered an act of
unbridled optimism, Mr. Lopez worked with 13 different morning show teams
before the Kirk, Mark & Lopez show debuted eight years ago.
"He had a very dry sense of humor ..." said 98 Rock personality Sarah
Fleischer, who worked with Mr. Lopez for 26 years. "His little side comments
and commentary added so much to the show."
"Lopez [was] one of the smartest guys I've ever known," said Kirk McEwen of
the KML show. "If I was going to be on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and get a
lifeline, I'd say [call] Bob Lopez in Baltimore."
"He could be caustic, sharp-tongued and very opinionated," said fellow KML
host Mark Ondayko. "But his opinions were always ... well thought-out."
Mr. Ondayko recalled his first day in the 98 Rock booth, when he sat in
with Mr. Lopez before making his official on-air debut.
98 Rock's Lopez dies at 52
'He loved Baltimore, and Baltimore loved him back'
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