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Six golden voices of vintage radio remain on the air in Baltimore Broadcasting Success

April 02, 1995|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Sun Staff Writer

A self-professed "terrible" student, Tom Marr says his high school counselor suggested he would be looking at a choice between pumping gas or becoming a stock clerk. But an interest in sports, "a little bit of talent and a lot of luck" propelled him into a 35-year radio career.

"I did my first high-school sports show in 1960 at WWDC [AM] in Washington," says Mr. Marr, whose two-way talk show airs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on WCBM-AM (680).

In fact, that first sports show had actually been offered to a friend from his home room at Montgomery Blair High School [in Silver Spring]. "But he didn't know anything about sports and I did, so I just re-wrote the stories out of the old [Washington] Daily News. It just seemed to come naturally."

Soon enough, the scholastic sports show was Mr. Marr's.

After high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and, upon discharge in 1963, landed a radio job in Rhode Island. But he wanted to return to Maryland with his wife, Sharon, a Baltimore City Police detective, so he went to work later that year in Salisbury.

After a stint announcing on both radio and TV at WTAR in !B Norfolk, Va., Mr. Marr landed a job as a news reporter for Baltimore's WFBR in May 1967.

"I love Baltimore," he says, noting he raised five children here.

In 1979, when WFBR landed rights to the Orioles games, he became a baseball announcer for six years, when the WFBR contract with the team ended. He recalls those years with mixed feelings.

"I was not really comfortable with baseball play-by-play," he says, adding, "It would have helped if I'd had the experience of doing minor-league games for a couple years."

Mr. Marr has not been to an Orioles game since 1986, yet says he is friends with a number of former players. He shows off a cracked batting helmet catcher Rick Dempsey Jr. once slammed to the dirt after a strikeout.

Later, Mr. Marr became a talk show host -- after station manager Harry Shriver suggested that he could do more than news.

Like that early scholastic sports radio show, "It just seemed really natural," he notes.

When the WFBR station sweep occurred in 1988, he was offered work on the new all-talk WCBM, where he has been since. Mr. Marr also does a Saturday talk show and a variety of fill-in work on WWDB-FM (96.5), a talk station in the Philadelphia area.

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