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Family, friends remember Baltimore radio personality Tom Marr

The Baltimore Sun
Family and friends gathered Friday to remember longtime radio personality Tom Marr.

Thomas A. "Tom" Marr, the longtime conservative radio talk-show host who earlier in his career was a play-by-play announcer for Orioles games, was recalled at his funeral Mass on Friday as a broadcast giant and an innovator.

"Tom Marr was a lion of talk radio," said his son, Thomas Marr IV. "There's simply no other way to put it."

Marr, 73, died of a stroke July 7 after undergoing back surgery.

His career in radio spanned decades and centered on baseball and local and national politics, and many of the more than 200 people who attended the Mass at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Cockeysville represented those worlds.

Marr's children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all participated in the service. In his eulogy, Thomas Marr IV said his father made an impact both in the world of radio and at home.

"He was every bit a loving father and family man as he was a broadcaster," he said, his voice cracking.

The Rev. Chris Whatley called Marr a friend — and jokingly described him as a "Catholic curmudgeon." He said Marr once questioned him about going to a better place after death, and Whatley told him not to worry.

"I said, 'If the likes of you don't get into heaven, you can join me in the other place,'" Whatley said.

Marr, a Marine who served from 1960 to 1963, had a flag placed on his casket during Friday's service, and a bugler sounded taps.

Marr started his professional radio career at WFBR-AM in 1967 and began broadcasting Orioles games in 1979, becoming part of the "Orioles Magic" team, and later working with broadcaster Jon Miller.

He moved to WCBM in 1988 and embraced the talk format. After a brief departure in 1996 for two years in Philadelphia, he returned in 1998. He was still working at the station at the time of his death, hosting "The Tom Marr Show."

"He could be tough, but he had a heart of gold," said WCBM program director Sean Casey.

Marr developed a following among conservative voices, and made appearances on CNN and Fox.

His death last week was noted by local officials of all political stripes, from Gov. Larry Hogan and former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, both Republicans, to Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, a Democrat.

Ed Flanigan, radio personality who worked with Marr at WMAR, said his former colleague represented the true spirit of broadcast journalism. He said Marr had a combination of personalty, professionalism and production capabilities.

Lester Kinsolving, another political talk-show host on WCBM, called him "surely one of the most colorful and inventively needling characters I have ever known.

"I shall miss him immensely," Kinsolving said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Frederick Rasmussen contributed to this article.

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