Newport broadcasting legend Bob Spangler died August 25th 2008 at his home in Newport. He was 84. In a radio career that may never be matched, Bob spent more than 50 years as the morning personality for KNPT-AM and as the radio voice of Newport High School athletics.
Robert Dale Spangler was born June 1st 1924 in Gordon, Nebraska. His family later moved to Chamberlain, South Dakota where Bob was an outstanding athlete in baseball & basketball at Chamberlain High School. After graduating from high school in 1942, he joined the U.S. Army. After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was deployed to France in June 1944. As a sergeant in charge of reconnaissance unit in the 43rd cavalry under the command of General George S. Patton, Bob served in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe, earning a Bronze Star for valor.
On his return from WWII, Bob signed a professional baseball contract as a pitcher for the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. After pitching 2 seasons with the Padres, Bob decided to give up baseball, and pursue a broadcasting career. He rejoined his family, now in Oregon, where he attended Oregon State University for 2 years. During his time at OSU, he starred as a pitcher for the Albany Alcos semi-professional baseball team. He later graduated from Northwest School of Broadcasting of Portland.
In 1949, Bob married Barbara Bussard of Albany. They had 2 sons, Mark & Matthew.
After completing broadcasting school in 1952, Bob came to Newport to go to work for Tom Becker’s new radio station, KNPT-AM, He started as the night DJ and sportscaster and later worked in several capacities at KNPT, including station manager, but he always kept his morning drive time slot on the air where, for more than 5 decades, he anchored the morning show at KNPT. As the voice of the Newport Cubs, he called thousands of high school sports contests where he covered more than 3 generations of Newport high School athletes.
For several years in the mid 1960’s, Bob worked as the radio broadcaster for the Eugene Emeralds minor league baseball team. During those years, Bob became well known for his skill at “recreating” the Em’s road games…a common practice in the minor leagues, when teams could not afford to send a play-by-play man on road trips. For every road game, Bob would receive only a line by line box score giving just the basic facts of an inning. He literally made up the rest…complete with bat on ball sound, crowd noise and other sound effects. His recreations performed in the studio were so convincing that man listeners did not realize he was not actually at the ball park.
Bob returned full time to KNPT in 1967. In 1978, Bob married Bernie Johnson in Newport. She died in 1996. in 1996, Bob married Janice Kitt.
Bob continued to work the morning show on KNPT and cal play by play for Newport High School sports up until the time of his death. In his final Newport High sports broadcast, Bob called the thrilling victory over Astoria in the 2008 OSAA baseball state championship at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Oregon. That game was Newport’s first baseball championship in 34 years.
Bob’s many awards over the course of his career include the Oregon Association of broadcasters Heritage Award, the Oregon Athletic Directors Distinguished Service Award, The Oregon High School Coaches Association Sports Media Person of the Year Award and the Oregon High School baseball Coaches Association Merit Award. One of Bob’s proudest moments came in 1999, when Newport High School gym was officially names “Spangler Court” in his honor.
A memorial celebration honoring Bob’s life and career will be held Saturday, September 6th at 1 PM at Spangler Court, Newport High School. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Bob Spangler memorial Scholarship, c/o: The Lincoln County Foundation
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