Roger Neel: Signing Off For The Final Time [VIDEO]
Today (Friday, June 19) brings my full-time employment at WNBF to a close. I plan to still broadcast high school football games and Binghamton University men's basketball games and do some commercials and endorsements as well. But as far as hosting our WNBF First News Morning Show and my Brand Manager duties...today is it. When I walk out the door this afternoon Doug Mosher takes on both of those positions.
I am sad to leave our Morning Show. Getting the chance to talk to and with so many of you has been something I will cherish forever. Many of you have become friends. The same can be said for a number of loyal sponsors who have also become wonderful friends and whose support has enabled me to do what I love. We have been able to do some many things over the years. I have loved meeting and seeing you at sporting events, festivals, station events and on remote broadcasts. We have been on cruises and bus trips together. I have met you at charitable events like the Southern Tier Heart Walk and the CHOW Hunger Walk.
I came to Binghamton on October 2, 1978. I was hired as a full-time staff member on WNBF but the real reason I was hired was to broadcast Broome Dusters hockey. And I loved it. We had so much fun and you were great to me. The people I met were among the finest in professional hockey and if you heard the messages over the past couple of weeks I am humbled by the kind words from some of the greats in hockey and broadcasting.
In 1998 WNBF agreed to broadcast all of Binghamton University's men's basketball games. Binghamton was making the move from Division III athletics to Division I. During that transition the Bearcats played three seasons at the Division II level and I was there for every one of them. Then Binghamton moved to the Division I level and for the past 19 seasons WNBF has been the radio station to listen to for Bearcats' Basketball home and away. Over that span we have added the women's schedule and all games are aired either on WNBF or WYOS. I am proud to say that I have broadcast all but one men's basketball game from the Division II move to now. By my totals that's 81 Division II games and 572 of the 573 Division I men's games. So, of the 654 men's basketball games play I have missed just one. That was a home game versus Boston University. That night I was in my home town in Pennsylvania for induction into the Slippery Rock Area High School Athletic Hall of Fame. I have broadcast BU games in at least 29 states and in Mexico. We have played at many of the storied arenas in college basketball with games at North Carolina, Syracuse, Florida State, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Pitt. And of course another big event...meeting Duke in Greensboro, North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. I grew up around college athletics at Slippery Rock State University. I have loved college athletics ever since.
I was fortunate in the early years to blessed to meet and play football for Bill Beatty who was my head football coach in high school and who taught me the game. I was also fortunate to attend an play football at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa. I played under two of the greatest college coaches in the game. Dr. Harold E. Burry and Dr. Joseph Fusco. In 1970 under Dr. Burry we won the NAIA Division II National Championship. Until the mid 1990's only Division I players and coaches could be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1996 induction was opened to all levels. Dr. Burry was among the first class of small collage inductees. Among the other entrants were Walter Payton, Buck Buchanan and Terry Bradshaw. Dr. Burry was the greatest motivator of people I have ever seen. Joe Fusco took over for Dr. Burry and set new records at Westminster winning four National championships. He was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2001. These two men changed my life forever.
I took over as Program Director (now Brand Manager) on August 11, 1986 and have held those duties for almost 34 years. Brand Manager duties are wide-ranging. Your job is to protect and grow the product. You are responsible for everything on the air and online. We don't stop on weekends or holidays. The doors may close but the stations stay on the air. If you have been in middle management or on-call 24-7 you understand the responsibilities that go with it. I knew it would be difficult and it is the hardest part of anything I have done.
I have been fortunate in the things I have been able to do at WNBF. Our owners, Townsquare Media have been great to me. Very few are able to have this length of a career at one station and leave on their own terms. Thankfully, I am able to do that. No one has forced me out. Upper management asked me to stay. I have also been blessed over these last few years to have two wonderful Binghamton Market Presidents in Mary Beth Walsh and Barbara Meany. Barb has been responsible for much of what has taken place over these past several weeks for me. She is an amazing boss and I will never be able to thank her enough.
So, why retire now ? It's time. I want to spend time with my wife Beth who has stuck with me during some incredibly long hours and responsibilities. I want to exercise again and be able to sit down and eat without the worry of who is off or is the station still on the air at 1 or 2 in the morning or on a holiday. I haven't known what that is like in 34 years.
I hope you continue to support WNBF. it is a wonderful treasure in our community. We have been here through floods, blizzards and COVID-19. Bob Joseph, Kathy Whyte and now Doug Mosher will continue the tradition of excellence you have found on WNBF. You are in good hands.
Thank you so much for all you have done for me in these 42 years at WNBF. I had no idea when I came here in 1978 that i would love you this much. Your kindness has humbled me. God bless all of you!