William H. Shriver Jr., 84, actor, longtime WBAL radio personality

October 30, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

William H. Shriver Jr., a longtime Baltimore radio personality who offered drive-time commentary on WBAL-AM for two decades, died Sunday of a heart attack at his Annapolis home. He was 84.

A figure in Baltimore radio since the 1930s, when he appeared on a 15-minute weekly program in the role of a city Department of Health physician called Dr. Ashley, he went on to write radio and advertising copy and television reviews, and to appear on local stages. He was best known for his show Views and Reviews, which aired five days a week at 5:35 p.m. from 1963 until his 1983 retirement.

He began his nightly spot with an enthusiastic greeting: "Hi! This is William Shriver for Views and Reviews - brought to you by AL-le-GHENY Airlines." He often second-guessed sports managers and coaches, gave opinions on movies and plays, and eulogized friends.

"He had this deep, resonating voice that commanded your attention," said Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL radio station manager. "He could sound like a curmudgeon. ... His interests really were about community issues, the city and the state. He had a passion for theater and the arts."

Born in Westminster and raised in Roland Park, he was a graduate of Portsmouth Priory in Newport, R.I. He had hopes of becoming an actor but was not getting the roles he wanted. He turned to radio instead and found a job writing scripts for WFBR in Baltimore.

"Bill was a very talented man, both in his acting and in his writing," said retired WBAL general manager Brent Gunts, who met Mr. Shriver when both worked at WFBR. "We did a lot of live, local programming, and somebody had to write it. He was one of the writers of a half-hour drama, Before Midnight. It was designed to scare people."

Mr. Shriver moved in the early 1940s to New York, where he won a Peabody Award for a program he narrated for the U.S. Public Health Service. He later became a cast member of a CBS radio series Report to the Nation, the host of which was John Charles Daly, who later appeared on television's What's My Line?

In 1942, he joined the Army and graduated from officer candidate school. He served in the infantry but had to leave the service because of asthma.

He returned to Baltimore to write, direct and act in a local radio show, Women of the Week, a tribute to women involved in World War II.

In the mid-1940s, he joined the radio division of the Van Sant Dugdale advertising agency. In the 1950s, he produced two local television sports shows for the agency. One, Ask Weeb Ewbank, featured the Baltimore Colts' coach, and the other spotlighted Baltimore Orioles manager Paul Richards, who was also Mr. Shriver's golf partner.

In 1979, Mr. Shriver received a diagnosis of cancer. He wrote of his experiences in the recovery room after surgery and his recuperation in an Evening Sun article called "Living and laughing with an ileostomy."

"Cancer is a terrifying thing to contemplate. When the doctors tell you the evidence is irrefutable, things happen to you inside, there, in your own tiny world," he wrote in the article published Dec. 9, 1980. "You have some radical procedures to tackle and get used to."

In the 1970s, Mr. Shriver wrote television reviews for Extra, a Sunday magazine published by the News American.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years, the former Allison Busby. A previous marriage to Anne Jackson ended in divorce.

A memorial Mass will be offered at noon tomorrow at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church, 12500 Clarksville Pike in Clarksville.

Other survivors include two sons, William Herbert Shriver III of Chevy Chase and Robert VanHorne Shriver of Lutherville; two daughters, Anne Shriver Dyer of Granada Hills, Calif., and Abigail McCormick Shriver Riebel of Arnold; two sisters, Virginia Shriver McDermott of Ellicott City and Hannah Shriver Smith of Oakridge, Tenn; and seven grandchildren.

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