William T. Feldman, 44, host of WBJC's night classical show

October 26, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William Taft Feldman, popular overnight WBJC radio announcer who for 19 years brought classical music and operatic performances to denizens of the night, died Oct. 12 of prostate cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 44 and lived in Owings Mills.

Mr. Feldman, who began his career in 1979 and was host of "A Little Night Music," then "All Night Classics," was known for his in-depth knowledge of music, film and technology.

"Bill was very unusual in this industry that is filled with nomads," said WBJC general manager Cary Smith.

"He developed a following as an overnight anchor and in doing so became a solid anchor presence for us," he said.

Mr. Smith admired Mr. Feldman's expertise in assembling theme programs and his ability as a fund-raiser during the station's annual campaigns.

Another popular creation of his was the "Friday Night Request Show," when listeners could telephone in requests that were often obscure pieces or rare operatic performances.

Because of Mr. Feldman's hours, he was often the only person at the station, his only companions being his microphone, recordings and the unseen audience beyond the studio walls. He'd play and discuss recordings until his 6 a.m. sign-off when he bade his listeners, "Goodbye, my friends."

"He was a great punster, and when I'd come in the morning, Bill would greet me with a piece of foam ceiling tile and would say, 'I can't talk now. I'm on the foam,' " said WBJC broadcaster Kathy Fain, laughing.

"It's a bit tough talking about Bill, who was a complex person and slightly reclusive," said Reed Hessler, who said Mr. Feldman's tribute to opera diva Rosa Ponselle in the 1980s was "one of the finest things of his career."

Born and raised in Northwest Baltimore in a family that appreciated classical music and opera, Mr. Feldman began listening to the family's extensive collections of recordings as a child. By the time he was a teen-ager, he had built a harpsichord from scratch.

A 1971 graduate of the Park School, Mr. Feldman earned a bachelor's degree in drama in 1975 and a master's degree in 1978 in television and radio from Syracuse University. He began his radio career as a classical announcer at WONO in Syracuse, N.Y., before coming to Baltimore.

Services were held Oct. 13 at Temple Oheb Shalom.

He is survived by a brother, David H. Feldman of Baltimore; two sisters, Anne F. Blass and Joan C. Feldman, both of Baltimore; and companion, Linda Ladon of Owings Mills.

Pub Date: 10/26/97

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