ROBERT CONRAD, PRESIDENT, ORCHESTRA COMMENTATOR AND HOST OF WEEKEND RADIO
Co-founder and President of WCLV, Robert is the dean of orchestra commentators, having been the host for the broadcasts of The Cleveland Orchestra since 1965.
Research indicates that Robert has been the continuous commentator for an orchestra broadcast series longer than anyone else in the history of American radio. Also, he
hosts Weekend Radio (Saturdays at 10:00 pm on WCLV), a unique and award-winning conglomeration of comedy and light classical music heard on some 80 radio stations throughout the country.
Robert entered the broadcasting business at the age of 14 over WKAN in his home town of Kankakee, Illinois, when he was chosen to write and announce a weekly high school program. Eventually, he became a full-time announcer and the host of a weekly live country and western broadcast called Hayloft Jamboree, where he was called Sagebrush Bob.
Robert graduated from the School of Communications at Northwestern University. While in school, he worked at WEAW AM/FM in Evanston, and WFMT, Chicago. After graduation, Uncle Sam provided him with an all-expense-paid vacation in Hawaii with the 14th Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Battalion. During off hours, Robert graced the Hawaiian airwaves from KAIM AM/FM and KULA. While in Hawaii, he won Second Place in the "Most Beautiful Voice in America" contest on the NBC Radio network program Monitor. First place was won by a woman in Los Angeles, and he won second place; so, he can say "Most Beautiful Male Voice in America." He won a grand piano and other prizes, enough loot to sell and buy a Volkswagon when he was discharged from the Army. He returned to WFMT for several years, moving to Detroit in 1960 to become the program director of a new station, WDTM. Then, in 1962, it was on to Cleveland and WCLV.
His activities outside WCLV include appearing as narrator with area ensembles, including The Cleveland Orchestra and the Blossom Festival Band. He also has performed the non-dancing role of "The Speaker for the Jury" in Morton Gould's Fall River Legend with The Cleveland Ballet, and he and his wife Jean starred in the Beck Center production of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters. On Saturdays he puts on the academic gown of an Adjunct Professor of Broadcasting at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In the Spring of 1998, Robert gave the commencement speech at the CIM graduation ceremonies and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree. In 1982, he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Baldwin-Wallace College. His third honorary degree, Doctor of Humanities, was given him by Oberlin College in the Spring of 2002. He has received the Life Time Achievement Awards of the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters, the Cleveland AIR Awards, and the "Glissando Award" from the Rainey Institute. In January, 2011, he was given the Distinguished Service Award by The Cleveland Orchestra; and in 2012, Missouri Southern State University's Klassix Society presented him with the Karl Haas Award for Education On the Radio.
He is a member of the Boards of Trustees of The Cleveland Orchestra, the Music School Settlement, the Rainey Institute, the Music Theatre Project. the Cliffside Foundation, ideastream and the Cleveland Playhouse.
Robert's wife, Jean, died in October, 2011. She was a retired social worker. There are four grown Conrad daughters. A son is deceased. There are six grandchildren, Emily, Christian, Amy and Jonathan, Sarah and Aaron, and two step-grandchildren, Dominique and Alexandra. On Christmas Day, 2010, their step-great-grandchild, Layla Marie, arrived.
During the winter Robert is a part-time resident of Bonita Springs, Florida, where his voice is occasionally heard on local stations. When he's not doing radio things, he's running his N gauge model railroad, the WC&LV. (Western Cuyahoga and Lorain Valley Railroad).
For a video, "The Man behind the Microphone", click here.
Photo by Roger Mastroianni