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Norman Brooks was known for a chatty morning program, ”Breakfast with Brooks,” on which he played top-40s music.
Norman Brooks was known for a chatty morning program, ”Breakfast with Brooks,” on which he played top-40s music. (handout / HANDOUT)

Norman Brooks, a radio broadcaster and former WFBR program director, died of heart disease Dec. 24 at his Lutherville home. He was 85.

Born in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, he was the son of Louis Komorofski and his wife, Katherine. He changed his name to Brooks and earned a degree at Girard College in Philadelphia. He studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse.

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He broke into AM radio in York, Pennsylvania, and moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, where he worked with his friend, Ted Cassidy, who later played Lurch in “The Addams Family.” Mr. Brooks initiated a chatty morning program, ”Breakfast with Brooks,” on which he played top-40s music to accompany his dialogue. The show became one of his signature productions.

Mr. Brooks went on to become program director of WGST in Atlanta.

While working in Georgia, he met his future wife, Sarah Margaret Duncan. They met on a blind date.

“He often talked of his experiences in Atlanta, including conversations with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said his daughter, Sarah Adrienne Fischer of Lutherville.

After working in Little Rock, Arkansas, at KARK, Mr. Brooks moved to Baltimore in 1969 when he was named WFBR’s program director.

“My father coined the phrase “MAD Radio 13” and was the mindset behind radio promotions,” said his daughter. “He was a regular voice on ‘Conference Call’ with Ken Maylath, Ron Matz, Tom Marr and Harry Shriver.”

She said her father did voice-over work on commercials through Golnick Advertising.

His daughter said he brought new talent to the station, including Johnnie Walker, the Flying Dutchman and Commander Jim Morton.

“When he traveled, he listened to local radio, and if heard a voice he liked, he gave a call," his daughter said.

At WFBR he experimented with inventor Leonard Kahn on a new field, AM stereo broadcasting.

He moved to Staunton, Virginia, and the Shenandoah Broadcasting Corp. in 1977.

Mr. Brooks managed several stations, including WKDW, WSGM and later WLVA.

His daughter said when Mr. Brooks led Shenandoah Valley Broadcasting’s WKDW, the station was popular and achieved high listenership.

“My father was known throughout the Staunton community for his show; he re-created ‘Breakfast with Brooks,’ ” his daughter said.

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He also became involved with community activities and was a president of the Retail Merchants Association and president of the Staunton City Chamber of Commerce.

He was involved with a group called Career Association 70,001 that prepared commercials for national competitions. He also worked on Staunton tree beautification projects and was a member of Rotary International. He taught broadcasting at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

In 1991 he returned to Baltimore and joined the faculty of the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland in Northeast Baltimore. He worked with the school’s founder, John Jeppi, and was director of its evening school and director of student placement.

Mr. Brooks taught broadcasting, programming and sales classes until his retirement in 2015.

He enjoyed time with his family, taking long walks and riding a Honda motorcycle. He also traveled extensively.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Peaceful Alternatives, 2325 York Road in Timonium.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Katherine Close of Lutherville and Evelyn Dare of Palm Harbor, Florida; and five grandchildren. His wife of 15 years died in 1975.

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