Rose Moss

Rose Moss, who was the creative force behind her husband's radio show, "The Sam Moss Hour of Jewish Comedy and Pride," which aired for more than 30 years over WAYE and later WCBM radio, died of heart failure at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla. The longtime Pikesville resident was 92. (Baltimore Sun / February 28, 2012)

Rose Moss, who was the creative force behind her husband's radio show, "The Sam Moss Hour of Jewish Comedy and Pride," which aired for more than 30 years over WAYE and later WCBM radio, died Sunday of heart failure at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla.

The longtime Pikesville resident was 92.

The daughter of a U.S. Treasury Department typesetter and cantor and a homemaker, Rose Levitt was born in Baltimore and raised on Montford Avenue near Patterson Park.

After graduating from Eastern High School in 1938, Mrs. Moss earned a certificate in business administration from the old Baltimore Business College.

She was married in 1940 to Sam Moss, a childhood sweetheart whom she had known since she was 9 and he was 12.

They lived across the street from each other near Patterson Park and attended old P.S. 27 together.

While her husband was serving in the Army in Europe during World War II, she was head accountant at Shofer's furniture store in East Baltimore.

After the birth of the couple's two sons, Mrs. Moss stopped working to raise her family and returned in the early 1960s to be office manager for her husband's business, Home Enterprise Contractors Inc., a residential and commercial remodeling and construction company.

"They were both extroverts, and she was the woman behind Sam Moss," said a son, William "Billy" Moss of Vero Beach. "He really was a comedian, and he loved telling jokes and stories."

Throughout her life, Mrs. Moss had been an avid reader and writer, and this proved helpful when the couple's close friends, Jack and Jean Luskin, urged them to develop a radio show based on their Jewish heritage and the Jewish community in Baltimore.

Mr. Luskin, who used "The Cheapest Guy in Town" as a slogan for his Baltimore-based chain of appliance and electronics stores, agreed to sponsor the show.

Mrs. Moss was the researcher, scriptwriter and producer — and selected the show's music — while her husband brought his storytelling abilities, quick wit and penchant for ad-libs as the show's on-air personality and host.

Armed with books and scribbled notes that they piled on the floor around them, Mr. and Mrs. Moss spent Monday and Tuesday nights in the dining room of their Pikesville home writing, bouncing jokes off each other, generating shticks and arguing about the content of the next week's show.

"I always tell Rose, 'Sit down, honey, we're gonna argue … and when we're done, I'm gonna take you out to eat.' But where can you go at 3 o'clock in the morning?" Mr. Moss told a Baltimore Sun reporter in a 1978 interview.

"If Rose doesn't like a joke, I take it out of the show," Mr. Moss told a Baltimore Sun columnist in 2003. "Not always," replied Mrs. Moss.

"All right, not always. If I take 'em all out, I'll have nothing left," said Mr. Moss.

The result of their efforts was "The Sam Moss Show," which began airing at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings on WAYE in 1978.

The show regularly featured Jewish comedy in the Borscht Belt tradition, Jewish news and a regular Yiddish lesson. It also had such stock characters as Hurricane Horowitz, the singing Jewish weatherman, the arguing friends Brenda and Shirley, and Rex Yid, a Jewish adaptation of Rex Reed, the real-life Hollywood movie reviewer.

Also included in the show were "Bubbamissas," or "grandmother's tales," and "The Walk Down Memory Lane," which tried to recapture nostalgic slices of life of the closely knit Jewish families who once lived in East Baltimore and later moved to the suburbs.