Veteran radio commentator on WBAL wishes listeners one final 'good today'

March 02, 1991|By Eric Siegel

Morning listeners of WBAL-AM radio are going to have to "make this a good today" without the warm words of wisdom of Don Spatz.

The commentator -- whose signature sign-off on his six-day-a-week radio spots was "make this a good today" -- retired yesterday after more than 30 years on air.

"To tell you the truth, I was getting just a little bit tired of it," he said. "I've done about 10,000 broadcasts. I can't believe it when I say it myself, but I started broadcasting Oct. 6, 1960."

He also said the station wanted him to halve his three-to-four minute commentaries to include more news and information.

"My God, what can you say in a minute and a half?" he asked. "On top of that, after almost 31 years, I think it's time."

Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL's vice president and station manager, marveled at the commentator's longevity.

"It's just so unusual in our industry to have a man who spent 30 years at one radio station," Mr. Beauchamp said. "He was consistently there, but you never knew what he was going to talk about on any given day. He could make you laugh one day and cry the next."

In Mr. Spatz's place, the station will offer a variety of as-yet undetermined commentators, Mr. Beauchamp said.

A native of Reading, Pa., who worked in public relations at the Peabody Conservatory before going to work for WBAL, Mr. Spatz also taught writing part time. He gives his age only as "mid-70s."

He received a proclamation from Gov. William Donald Schaefer marking his retirement, which saluted him for "helping to make a positive and productive difference in the lives of your devoted listening audience by offering keen insights into the world."

"I must have political appeal," Mr. Spatz observed wryly. "It came back to me when I read [the proclamation] that [former Maryland Gov. and Baltimore Mayor] Ted McKeldin wrote the introduction to my first book."

He put the collection of commentaries out in 1973 because he "couldn't find anyone interested in publishing it." The book went through three printings, selling 15,000 copies. Its title: "Make This A Good Today."

Mr. Spatz, who says he plans to do some writing but no more radio work, recalled the genesis of that phrase yesterday.

"Store clerks are always saying 'Have a good day,' but that didn't suit me. . . . My theory is that you have to make it work yourself."

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