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Former LI radio mainstay Bob Buchmann returning for on-air reunion

Former WBAB morning drive time DJ Bob Buchmann

Former WBAB morning drive time DJ Bob Buchmann on Feb. 24, 1997. Credit: Newsday / Don Jacobsen

Former Long Island radio mainstay Bob Buchmann returns to his old stamping grounds Thursday for an on-air reunion with friend and colleague Ralph Tortora on a live WBZO/103.1 FM "Max" broadcast from 5 to 7 p.m. from Connoisseur Media radio studio at The Paramount in Huntington.

"They worked together for years and we thought it'd be a nice thing to do for Bob since June marks his 40th anniversary in radio," said fellow friend Jim Condron, an executive with WALK/97.5 FM station-owner Connoisseur Media. "He happens to be in town for a family trip for Father's Day."

Longtime listeners know Buchmann as a 20-year staple of WBAB-FM from 1979 to 1999, where he served as both a morning DJ and as head of programming and took a moribund station ranked fourth in the Long Island market to become its top-ranked for two decades, heeding listener rock requests and championing up-and-coming local bands like The Good Rats, Twisted Sister and Zebra.

He moved from there to WAXQ/104.3 FM in New York for almost nine years before relocating to stations in Southern California.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years this month that I cracked the morning microphone in the place I grew up,” said Buchmann. “When ‘Max’ FM and Ralph Tortora heard I was coming home for Father’s Day, they invited me on his afternoon show live from The Paramount. How do you say no when a friend of four decades asks you to help play the classics on the radio from hometown Huntington?”

"We all grew up with Bob," Condron said. "He's kind of a landmark of all the stations he's been at," as well as an involved part of Long Island. "He just was out everywhere — he got to know his listeners. He's always been community-conscious. He and Billy Joel started Charity Begins at Home," an effort launched in 1978 in which fundraising concerts help local charitable agencies.

Long Island Music Hall of Famer Buchmann has recalled founding a Half Hollow Hills community radio station in his teens, as well as a 100-watt pirate AM station that he said eventually became "America’s first mass-distributed cable-only radio station, based in Commack." While attending Ithaca College, he worked for upstate stations and then part-time at three Long Island stations during summers.

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After becoming program director and an on-air personality at KLOS-FM in Los Angeles, he worked for KGB-FM in San Diego and its parent company iHeartMedia for seven years before his position was eliminated in April. "I'd prefer you hear this from me first, as I'm a bit in shock," he broke the news to fans on Facebook, adding, "Come to think of it, I'm not a bit in shock, I'm a lot in shock! Thank you for being there for me day in and day out.”

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