By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
November 5, 2011
Theodore R. "Ted" Jaffee, a veteran broadcaster whose career in both local radio and TV spanned nearly 40 years, died Monday from complications of a stroke at Aston Gardens, a Naples, Fla., assisted-living facility.
The former Lutherville resident was 92.
"Ted was probably the classiest person I ever worked with. He was the consummate professional," said Johnny Dark, legendary Baltimore radio personality, who worked with Mr. Jaffee at WCAO.
"There was no ego, and he was warm and friendly. When I think of the word 'class,' Ted comes to mind," recalled Mr. Dark.
The son of a maintenance engineer and a homemaker, Mr. Jaffee was born and raised in Westfield, N.J. He was a 1937 graduate of Westfield High School, and during World War II served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater in communications.
After being discharged in 1945, Mr. Jaffee got his first job in radio working at WDEC-AM in Americus, Ga.
In the late 1940s, he went to work for a radio station in Vineland, N.J., where he met Mary Conboy, who also worked at the station, and whom he married in 1949.
The couple came to Baltimore in 1949, when Mrs. Jaffee was offered her own cooking and household-hint TV series, "The Mary Landis Show," on WBAL-TV.
Mrs. Jaffee's stage name, Mary Landis, was derived from the state capital, Annapolis.
While his wife worked in Baltimore, Mr. Jaffee was on the air at WNAV-AM in Annapolis. In 1950, he went into television when he joined WAAM-TV, which later became today's WJZ-TV, as news anchor.
"Like all TV announcers he did everything from interview shows to sportscasts. He was the announcer of the 'Johns Hopkins Science Review,' which the station originated and fed to the ABC-TV network," wrote former TV critic William Hyder in a 1968 article in The Baltimore Sun.
"He won special praise from viewers when he took over the 'Buddy Deane Show' while Deane was on vacation," wrote Mr. Hyder.
"At the time he was news anchor, the news was only 30 minutes in length — 15 minutes for local and 15 for network news," said a son, John L. Jaffee, of Naples.
Mr. Jaffee returned to radio in 1962, when he took a job with WCAO-AM "Big 60" on the dial, as news director and morning drive-time DJ, working from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
"I remember him belting out, 'This is Ted Jaffee and Big 60 News.' He had a terrific projecting voice," said John Patti, WBAL Radio reporter, who worked with Mr. Jaffee on two occasions before joining WBAL in 1984.
"I interned at WCAO in 1975 and Ted was the news director, and he was responsible for getting me my first job in radio that year," recalled Mr. Patti.
"He was covering Annapolis, and the news director at WNAV asked him if he could recommend someone and he gave them my name," said Mr. Patti. "I was 21, a sophomore in college, and I got my first job in radio because of Ted Jaffee."
In 1981, the two men's paths crossed again when Mr. Patti went to work at WITH Radio.
"I was hired in the sales department, and when the station changed to a big-band format, Ted loved big-band music, he went back to being a disc jockey and I became news director," he said. "He was such a big part of my being in this business for 38 years."
Ken Jackson, who hosts "In the Mood," a weekly big-band show on WYPR-FM, also worked with Mr. Jaffee at WITH.
"He was my morning man when I joined the staff," said Mr. Jackson. "Ted had a wonderful personality and was an old school Top 40 DJ and he brought that patter to the big-band format after the station had changed."
Mr. Jackson recalled that Mr. Jaffee never tired of talking about New York's Paramount Theatre in Times Square, a movie palace that was also a major big-band venue during the 1930s and 1940s.
"Ted loved the Paramount and he loved talking about it. I think he lived there. He'd get very descriptive, especially for instance, in describing Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra," said Mr. Jackson.
"He'd describe the music welling up from below as the band rode an elevator to stage level with great smoke rings rising and the great curtain rising."
In addition to his radio work, Mr. Jaffee narrated many of the early NASA films and was a voice-over artist for many commercials, including those for Peoples Drug Stores, which he did for more than a dozen years.
He retired from WITH in 1986, and moved to Naples three years later. Mrs. Jaffee died in 1988.
He was an avid traveler.
Services at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery are private.
Also surviving are two other sons, James Jaffee of Wiesbaden, Germany, and Allan Jaffee of Colorado; three sisters, June Mastrian of Plainfield, N.J., Marilyn Jones of Ocala, Fla., and Barbara Horner of Westfield; and two grandchildren.
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