If ever there was a "voice of Akron" on a radio station that's billed as "the talk of Akron" it was Howie Chizek.
(Call to "The Howie Chizek Show" recorded by YouTube user CrownVictoria1984, courtesy YouTube.)
Howard Alan Chizek ruled the airwaves behind his microphone at WNIR-FM for 38 years, turning aside offers to take his program to bigger radio markets because he'd found a place where he was happy. And northeast Ohio listeners found much in Chizek to keep him happy, not only as the signature host of the talk radio station but as a fixture in the region and the nation. Wikipedia lists him as the longest-running talk show host in the country.
Chizek died Saturday, according to multiple media reports, while in Florida where he hosted an annual outing for disadvantaged children to Disney World. WNIR reported on the air and on it's website that Chizek, a Cleveland Heights native and graduate of Ohio University, passed away during the flight to Orlando of an apparent heart attack. Chizek just turned 65 on June 9th.
Best known for his playful nature and baritone voice thundering "you're on the air" when callers dialed in to his broadcast program, there was also a generation of Cleveland Cavaliers fans who best remember Chizek as the announcer who provided the thunderous arena announcer soundtrack to the team for 17 years at the Coliseum of Richfield. His outstretched "for tha-reeee" when a Cleveland player sank a three-point basket was a legendary part of the experience of watching NBA basketball when the Cavs moved from the old Cleveland Arena to northern Summit County.
While many talk show hosts on today's radio dial identify themselves as much with their political spin as their entertaining style, Chizek exemplified a more well-rounded observer and foil able to offer commentary on just about any subject. He had a wry sense of humor that was evident on the air, even to those who were the subjects of his occasional barbs and wit.
Funeral arrangements are pending.