Robert T. Russo Sr., 75, a first baseman for a Delaware County baseball team in his youth who became a sports broadcast producer for Philadelphia radio stations, died of complications from heart problems Friday, April 26, at his home in Egg Harbor Township. He was a longtime resident of Clementon.
In 1967, Mr. Russo became the first producer for WIP-AM broadcasts of Eagles football games, his son, Robert T. Jr., said.
"He was in the mail room at WIP," in one of his early jobs, his son said, "and got exposed to the industry."
Mr. Russo interrupted his Philadelphia career to work at the New York City radio station WHN-AM, where, his resumé states, in 1970 he became the first music director of a country-music broadcast format in the city.
Sports soon intruded.
Mr. Russo became WHN's executive producer in 1972-73 for broadcasts of baseball games by the Mets, basketball games by the Nets, and hockey games by the Islanders.
In 1975, he left radio to work as East Coast promotion director for Lifesong Records in New York City.
He returned to Philadelphia as executive producer for WIP broadcasts of Eagles football games and Flyers hockey games in 1980. In 1981, he became the station's music director.
Mr. Russo became the first producer of games by the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League in 1982. From 1982 to 1983 he was the promotions director for WSNI-FM.
WSNI-FM broadcast in Philadelphia from 1982 to 1990, according to the website for Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.
From 1999 to 2001 he was program director for WRDR-FM, which broadcast a big band format from Egg Harbor, before ending his career as a sales representative for Comcast.
Born near 17th and Ritner Streets in South Philadelphia, Mr. Russo was an Army Reserve veteran. Mr. Russo began a blog - Still Waiting for the '32 - as a reminiscence about his experiences, but, his son said, it evolved into a repository of his comments about current affairs.
A website shows that the Route 32 streetcar, which operated on South 17th and 18th Streets, was abandoned in 1957. The site - www.phillytrolley.org/routes.html - does not state where the route began or ended.
Besides his son, Mr. Russo is survived by daughter Donna Marie Albano, brother Rich, and granddaughter Amanda Grace Russo. He was predeceased by two wives.
A funeral took place April 30.
Donations may be sent in Mr. Russo's name to Compassionate Care Hospice Foundation, 11 Independence Way, Newark, Del. 19713.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.GardnerFuneralHome.com.