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Arthur L. 'Art' Buist, broadcaster and attorney, dies

Arthur L. "Art" Buist, an attorney and broadcaster who was a longtime radio reporter on WJHU and WYPR, died Wednesday.
Arthur L. "Art" Buist, an attorney and broadcaster who was a longtime radio reporter on WJHU and WYPR, died Wednesday. (HANDOUT / HANDOUT)

Arthur L. "Art" Buist, an attorney and broadcaster who was a longtime radio reporter on WJHU and WYPR, died Wednesday of complications from a stroke at Keswick Multicare Center.

The former Rodgers Forge resident was 62.

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"Art Buist was just a decent and kind human being and an incredible reporter. He was tenacious and went out and got good stories," said Marc Steiner, host of WEAA's "The Marc Steiner Show."

"He was a true political junkie if there ever was one," said Joel McCord, WYPR news director. "In 2008, he went to the Democratic Convention in Colorado, and then drove to Minnesota for the Republican Convention, and he did it on his own dime."

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"Art believed in democracy, social justice and people having opportunities," said Del. Stephen W. Lafferty, a Towson Democrat.

Arthur Lauriston Buist was born and raised in Rockford, Ill., the son of Charles J. Buist Jr., a draftsman, and Althea Margaret Hyland, a teacher.

He began his broadcasting career with a local radio station when he was a sophomore at Auburn High School, from which he graduated in 1970.

He earned a bachelor's degree in speech from Northwestern University in 1974.

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After college, he worked for WSER in Elkton, WDEL in Wilmington, Del., and on weekends at WPGC in the Washington suburbs. At the time, Mr. Buist's on-air name was Art Anthony, family members said.

He was also an announcer and appeared on MPT telethons from 1986 to 1992, said Karl Pfrommer, former MPT broadcast operations manager.

"Art was a man of great integrity; I always admired that," Mr. Pfrommer said.

He was a member of the news department when WJHU went on the air in 1986. After it boosted its power to 25,000 watts, it became a National Public Radio member station. He continued with the station after Johns Hopkins University sold it in 2002.

As a reporter, he covered news in Baltimore and at the State House in Annapolis. He anchored morning, afternoon and weekend shifts, and filled in for other reporters. He also frequently reported Baltimore stories nationally for NPR.

"Art was just a dedicated, diligent, intelligent broadcaster, said Bob White, a veteran WJHU and WYPR broadcaster.

"He always hosted our Preakness coverage and fed stories to NPR from our station," Mr. White said. "Art had a passion for radio news and journalism. Along with his law practice, he breathed news broadcasting and his time spent on the air."

"He was always excited about what he was working on. He always wanted to get to the bottom of a story," said Katie Brennan, a Hampden resident and 22-year volunteer with the Friends of WYPR.

"He was an unbelievably joyful and welcoming person who would come into the volunteer phone room and sit down and talk with me," said Ms. Brennan, a longtime friend.

"He was the proverbial mensch who treated everyone so nicely," Mr. Steiner said. "He had a good heart."

Among his duties was filling in for Andy Bienstock, who has hosted a Sunday evening jazz show since 1990.

"He liked jazz and he knew it, and that's especially good when you're running a jazz show," Mr. McCord said with a laugh.

While working as a broadcast reporter, Mr. Buist earned a law degree in 1992 from the University of Maryland School of Law and maintained a private practice that specialized in consumer, family and probate law.

Mr. Buist lived on Hopkins Road in Rodgers Forge and was an active board member of the Rodgers Forge Community Association.

"Being a lawyer, Art used his talents to revise the bylaws and research the covenants to determine which covenants were still in effect," said Mr. Pfrommer, who also served on the board.

After leaving the board, Mr. Buist represented neighbors pro bono who were being sued for alleged covenant and zoning violations.

"Art won every case," Mr. Pfrommer said. "He was their hero in Rodgers Forge and stood up for what he thought was right. He was always working hard to improve the neighborhood."

"He touched a lot of people in his work with the neighborhood association," Mr. Lafferty recalled.

While living in the Abell community in 1996, Mr. Buist successfully represented the neighborhood in its battle against the New 32nd Street Plaza, a North Baltimore nightclub whose license was indefinitely suspended by the city liquor board.

In 2002, he represented Charles Village residents who objected to Rootie Kazootie's, a bar in the 2700 block of N. Charles St. He told The Baltimore Sun that college students leaving the establishment in early-morning hours were yelling, fighting and urinating in yards and alleys.

"Charles Village in particular is a very tolerant neighborhood," he said. "People tend not to like it, though, when people come into their backyard and urinate."

Owners of the bar surrendered its license in 2003.

In 2010. Mr. Buist resigned from WYPR and ran as a Democratic candidate in the 42nd District. He lost in the primary to Mr. Lafferty, the incumbent.

"We actually agreed on many of the issues, and one day while campaigning, we met at an intersection," Mr. Lafferty recalled. "Even though Art lost, he wasn't the kind of person who held a grudge, and helped me with my campaign. He wanted to stay engaged in the process."

Mr. Buist hit the campaign trail for his former challenger.

"He may have had on rumpled clothes, but Art was always very congenial when he was ringing doorbells and knocking on doors in the neighborhoods. I always welcomed him coming along with me," Mr. Lafferty said.

Mr. Buist suffered a crippling stroke in 2013 that eventually ended his life.

"I tried to keep him going and encouraging him to come back to us," said Ms. Brennan, who would visit him at Keswick most days. "He was such a good man."

A viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a funeral service Saturday at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road. Burial will be in Rockford, Ill., on Oct. 29.

Mr. Buist is survived by several cousins. His marriage to the former Patricia Gavin ended in divorce.

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