Bob Bloom started building WXCY 103.7 in Havre de Grace in 1988 and the station went on the air in 1989. After 31 years with the radio station, Bloom retired at the end of September.
“It was just time,” Bloom said.
New ownership took over two years ago and while “they were fine, not a problem,” Bloom said that after nearly four decades in broadcasting, he didn’t want to learn a whole new way of doing radio.
The Owings Mills resident will still be around Harford County, however, as an ambassador for Visit Harford!, the county’s destination marketing organization.
“One of the things I really liked about 37 years in radio is the [public relations] side, the fun side, the chamber dinners, banquets, meeting people and talking about the business," Bloom said. “I’m not the type to sit home and watch TV all day. I wanted to do something, not stressful, worrying about budgets and sales. This sounded perfect.”
Bloom was honored by the Havre de Grace Police Department at Monday’s city council meeting.
“He ran the business as a true community partner,” Havre de Grace Police Capt. Joe Alton said. “He would promote any kind of police event, he was very public service oriented, and he never charged the police department a dime.”
Chief Theresa Walter said Bloom was an “outstanding partner and outstanding community leader.”
Bloom, a firm believer in giving back to the community, said supporting the police department was a no-brainer.
“For everything you do for us, protect us. You have a tough job, as we all know,” Bloom said at the meeting, and he’d do anything he could “to support them in their safety programs, especially Special Olympics.”
Retiring wasn’t a difficult decision for Bloom. He’s 66, his wife retired last year from the state and he wants to spend more time with his grandsons — one is 2 years old and another is due in February, he said.
The difficult part for Bloom wasn’t walking away from the station, but the people.
“Because the people made the station successful,” he said. “It’s an incredible staff.”
When the station went on the air in 1989, Bloom wasn’t sure what the future would hold or if the station would work out, one reason he didn’t move to Harford County, he said. He had two young daughters whom he didn’t want to force to leave their friends.
For many in the broadcast industry, to move up they had to go to another group in another state.
“Your resume looks like a road map,” Bloom said. “I’m blessed I never had to leave this area.”
When WXCY went on the air in 1989, country music was changing very rapidly from “Grandpa’s country music” to more mainstream, he said, with new superstars emerging, including Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood.
“As we started to ride that wave, by 1991, we could see something happening with the format,” Bloom said. “It was expanding, becoming more popular, attracting a younger demographic. We knew we were on to something and that this station would really do well.”
In 1997, the station expanded its reach even further with a new antenna and today the station is heard in four states.
“it’s a powerful station with a huge audience and it does well,” Bloom said.
So well, the station was nominated this year for a Country Music Award in the Medium Market Radio Station category. The winner will be announced in November.
“That’s never happened in 31 years,” Bloom said.
“It really exceeded all my expectations. I’d like to say I knew what I was doing, but we hit it at the right time and we rode the wave,” he said.
WXCY had been owned by Delmarva Broadcasting, which had 10 stations. Two years ago, it was bought by Forever Media of Pittsburgh.
“It’s very typical of what happens in broadcasting, larger corporations just swallowing up the smaller ones. We were fortunate we lasted 31 years,” Bloom said. “The former owners had the opportunity to sell and they moved assets out of radio and into other things.”
The new ownership allowed Bloom to hire his replacement and Stacie Monz has assumed the role of general manager. Monz spent 10 years in radio on the Eastern Shore.
“She has tremendous experience in broadcasting. She’ll do a great job, continue to carry on the torch,” Bloom said. “The last thing she said to me was ‘I’ll take care of your baby.’”
Visit Harford! ambassador
Bloom’s first event as Visit Harford!'s ambassador was the Harford Awards last week at Water’s Edge, sponsored by the Harford County Chamber of Commerce and Harford County Economic Development. He is also hosting the Archer Bull and Bel Air Business of the Year Awards Thursday.
“Bob is just an asset to the county and I saw his relationship with people and his love of Harford County,” said Greg Pizzuto, the executive director of Visit Harford! “I saw it as a great fit for tourism. He truly is an ambassador for Harford County."
In his role for Visit Harford!, working on a contractual basis, Bloom will be attending many of the same events he attended as WXCY’s GM.
“Instead of talking about radio, I’ll be talking about Harford County,” Bloom said.
Pizzuto said he had been thinking of hiring an ambassador for a few years, but never found the ideal person.