Where Are They Now?


Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes, born in Saint Petersburg and got his first brush with broadcasting fame as a visitor to the Peanut Gallery on The Captain Mac show on WSUN TV from their studios on the Million Dollar Pier in Saint Pete. First job in broadcasting was at WTVT as part of the production crew, working on the AM SHOW with Ernie Lee, Championship Wrestling From Florida, with Gordon Solie, and the powerful 6pm channel 13 news line-up with Hugh Smith, Salty Sol Fleischman, and Roy Leep. Trying his hand in radio, Bob started at WAZE in Clearwater, thanks to a truly bizarre signal, heard in New Orleans but not in Saint Petersburg. He went on to WWBA AM&FM, then the most widely listened to station in total audience in the market... thanks to the "Beautiful Music" format. There Bob worked on The Bay Radio Morning News, the first all news morning show in the market. He went on to do mornings at WDAE-FM, which by then had given up on rock and was now starting in Beautiful Music. Shortly after, it became WJYW. Across the hall was WDAE, where Ken Copper, and Ronald J. Ebben were holding forth. This was also a time of bomb scares, and building evacuations. These were the reaction to Stan Major's WDAE talk show. Being in the same building, when WDAE got a bomb threat, WJYW had to go off the air and evacuate too.

From there, Bob went to WQXM, then still Beautiful Music. But not long after, it became 98 Rock, and only two announcers made the change, Bob and Jennie Cheeks. Teamed with morning men Chris Taylor and then Russ Albums, Bob was doing news in the morning and running the promotions department in the afternoon. An inspired GM Jim Johnson was accumulating a promotions armada... the 98 Rock Firetruck, two vans, a paddy wagon (a repainted bread truck) a blimp, and for a while a piper cub... and had Bob running it all. The 98 Rock Chicken became ubiquitous, and while a high school student was usually in the costume, Bob filled in on more than one occasion. But Johnson, known as "JJ", was fighting demons and a difficult boss. He fired Bob twice, but hired him three times.

In between, he worked for Bud Paxon as he was starting the first all news station in the market, WDCL, later WWQT. For it's first weeks Bud himself was the morning news anchor, and then Bob replaced him... staying until JJ called him on a Friday and wanted him back. NOW. Bob wasn't sure he wanted to go back, until JJ started talking serious money... but only if he'd quit that Friday and be back on the air on 98 Rock the next Monday. "I went to Bud and asked what he thought. He told me he'd miss me but he understood. He also told me that if I ever needed a job to come see him." Bud, of course, went on to found the Home Shopping Network, and then the PAX-TV network (now ION).

The next time JJ fired him, Bob went to Supermix 96 in Clearwater and did the morning news with Scott Robbins on his morning show. Then back to 98 Rock after the famous blow up that caused a number of the staff to cross the bay and form the core of 95YNF. After leaving 98 Rock for the last time, Bob became the news director of WQYK, at that time the markets number one station with a country format, and later WXCR, Classics 92.

At Classics 92 he met Dan Johnson (no relation to Jim Johnson), the man behind WFSO at the dawn of Tampa Bay rock and roll, and was asked to stay with him when Dan sold WXCR and put WTMV-TV on the air in Lakeland. WTMV started as all music videos, and Bob promoted it like a low budget 98 Rock. During Richard Shank's two year run on WTMV with a two hour daytime talk show, the two became good friends and are still in touch. Bob often was seen on the air conducting celebrity interviews and stayed with WTMV through the full 12 years that it was run by Dan, but was let go when it was bought by Hearst Broadcasting. Hearst's new GM declared that the station was never promoted and was a blank slate to most viewers, a comment which still stings. But that empty suit was gone in a year.

Bob now lives in San Francisco, where he was part of the staff that put KKPX, the San Francisco PAX-TV station on the air. (Remember... Bud told him to get in touch if he ever needed a job...) He's now telecommuting doing consulting work for Dan Johnsons' latest TV stations WGSA and WGCW in Savannah, Georgia.