Broadcast Pioneers member Dick Heist
You know you’ve got a hell of a show when your fan mail shows up in stuffed-to-the-brim duffel bags. Dick Heist, a veteran Philadelphia area broadcaster hauled in requests and kudos by the bagful. And, here’s the oddity. He was broadcasting in English but most of his mail was in Japanese. Dick, a member of Broadcast Pioneers signed off on Black Friday November 28), 2014. Some of his most vivid broadcasting memories were of the days when he perched behind an Armed Forces Radio microphone at the Far East Network in Nagoya, Japan. His yarns of 1954 military radio flow as easily as his platter patter over the airwaves.
When Dick Heist put on an Army uniform he had already put a lot of air time under his belt at WPAZ in Pottstown. Weekends were spent exercising his pipes while announcing auto races at more than half-dozen area tracks. Returning from the Army and heading for Ursinus College, Dick still had his sights on a career in broadcasting. He was looking for a new challenge and was clearly rooted in the Philadelphia suburbs where he was born, raised and married his wife, Elaine (Marshman). Their two sons, Mark and Richard Geoffrey would also grow up in Montgomery County.
Broadcast Pioneers member Dick Heist & his wife Elaine (seated)
Members Herb Clarke & Jack Whitaker are in the back row
The new challenge came unexpectedly in the fall of 1960. The people who operated the North Penn Reporter, the successful daily newspaper in Lansdale were about to launch a new radio venture, WNPV. Dick, with his suburban radio experience would be the man to run it – everything from sales to programming, short of engineering. For Dick, it was a labor of love. But he couldn’t stay away from the magic of the microphone. The show he hosted, “Comment Please” is considered the longest running talk show in the region. It continues today.
Dick guided the station with a strong local news and high school sports orientation. But his passion was spinning the sound of the Big Bands. He also began hiring some big voices from Philadelphia. Paul Taylor and John Franklin took to the WNPV airwaves as Dick Heist continued to finely tune a suburban radio station with a local flare that could compete with signals drifting over the region from city towers.
And so as 1976 and the bicentennial dawned, author James Michener and football icon Don Meredith joined local partners to take over WBUX Radio in Doylestown. Dick was once again the man to tap. It was time for a new challenge and he brought his suburban broadcast knowledge to culturally enhanced Bucks County.
Under the stewardship of Dick Heist as Operations Manager, the station thrived and became an integral part of the community.
Broadcast Pioneers member Dick Heist (right) & his wife Elaine (left)
But Dick had another passion – the art and science of clock making. By 1978 Dick was ready for retirement from broadcasting and ready for a new career. The Iron Bridge Clock Shop was born. So was another labor of love as Dick sought out antique clocks with unique historical backgrounds. He focused on time keepers that dated back to the Revolutionary era, crafted by many of the German and English clockmakers who settled in Pennsylvania. He perfected the art of restoring them to a place in the highly prized antique collections and period furnishings in Delaware Valley homes. Dick continued the work until the clock on the studio wall just ran out. He was 82.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Bio written by Broadcast Pioneers member Jay Lloyd (longtime friend of Dick Heist)
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