Robert "Bob" Earle, 93, passed on Wednesday June 5, following a
short illness. He was the first chair of the department of Television and Radio, beginning in 1953.
Bob began his career in broadcasting after serving in the U.S. Navy at with radio station WIBX. After graduating from Utica College, he became an editor-writer at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y. Later he was named general manager of radio station WLFH in nearby Little Falls. He moved to the still new medium of television as an announcer and newscaster for WKTV in Utica, where he helped mentor another young broadcaster by the name of Dick Clark.
In 1953, Bob moved to Ithaca to join WHCU and then became the first chair of the TVR department at Ithaca College. He oversaw the building of the first television studios and WICB-TV (now ICTV), the nation’s first student-run television station. Bob left the college in 1959 to join General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center in Ithaca as a Specialist in Communications and Community Programs.
In 1962, he learned that the G.E. College Bowl television show was looking for a successor to host Allen Ludden. Bob used the broadcast facilities at Ithaca College to put together an audition tape, taking a copy of the show and editing himself in asking the questions. His professorial demeanor and golden
voice impressed network executives, and he would go on to moderate the quiz show until it went off the air in 1970. In 1963 the show won an Emmy award. Bob’s voice could be heard on television commercials throughout the 1970s, from Mercury Cougar automobiles (“At the sign of the cat”) to Arrow shirts to Liberty Mutual Insurance. He later joined the Tompkins County Trust Company as Vice President of Marketing.
His family will hold a private service during a summer sunset on the lake.
Donations in Bob's memory may be made to Hospicare, 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, www.hospicare.org.