Thomas Tinsley, began radio station WITH-AM

February 01, 1994|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Thomas Garland Tinsley, who started radio station WITH-AM in 1941 and for many years owned Baltimore's Muzak franchise, died Friday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of respiratory failure.

He was 90 and lived at God's Acres, his estate on Butler Road in Glyndon.

WITH went on the air March 7, 1941, with a broadcast from the stage of the Maryland Theater, featuring seven songwriters represented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Musicians, which was fighting with the radio networks over copyrights.

As Baltimore's first independent station, according to Robert C. Embry, vice president and general manager in 1941, WITH got approval to play music for which the society controlled the copyrights. The society had withheld permission from network stations, including all of WITH's local competitors, since that January.

Mr. Tinsley sold the station in 1964. By that time he had become owner of the Maryland Music Corp., the local Muzak franchise, which he sold in 1985.

He had also owned a television station in Petersburg, Va., and a radio station in Richmond, Va.

Mr. Embry described Mr. Tinsley as having "a creative mind" and as being "strong on promotions."

At his death, Mr. Tinsley owned both sides of the 500 block oBaltimore Ave. in Towson where he had maintained his own office since 1974. His office on the even side of the block is a one-story, miniature French chateau furnished with French and English antiques. To the rear is a walled garden.

He was active in campaigns to clean up and beautify Towson. In the areas of his properties, he had ornamental trees planted and kept window boxes full of flowers. Last Halloween, costumed employees, amid seasonal decorations, handed out candy.

Dr. Barnett Berman, who remained his friend after retiring as his doctor, described Mr. Tinsley as "having an aristocratic bearing, always well-dressed, well-groomed and traveling first class."

Mr. Tinsley was also interested in horses. He and his wife, the former Margaret Patricia McCord, who died in 1986, gave luncheons before the Grand National and Maryland Hunt Cup races.

In 1971, he bought Landing Party, who twice won the Maryland Hunt Cup, and entered the horse in the Grand National in England that December, but the horse failed in the qualifying races.

Born in Nashville, Tenn., Mr. Tinsley moved to Baltimore in 1913 with his family. A graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., he graduated from Yale University in 1927.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, he worked for various investment banking firms but switched to radio, working for stations in Baltimore before starting WITH.

Clubs and organizations to which he belonged included the Greenspring Valley Hunt Club, the Society of the Cincinnati and the Society of Colonial Wars.

Services were to be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, St. Thomas Lane and Garrison Forest Road in Owings Mills.

He is survived by many nieces and nephews, most of them in the Richmond area.

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