FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - WOWO radio has announced Fort Wayne morning radio host Charly Butcher has passed away. He was 61 years old.
The radio station reported Butcher's passing Wednesday night. WOWO News Director Kayla Blakeslee told NewsChannel 15 Butcher died late Wednesday afternoon likely due to a cardiac event.
She said his death is a tremendous loss to the Fort Wayne community.
Butcher had been on the air, locally for more than 30 years. He worked on both WOWO and WMEE radio stations.
WOWO is hosting a special tribute edition of its morning show Thursday to honor Butcher's life and legacy.
WMEE, where Butcher and Tony Richards hosted a morning show in the 1980's, is also looking back at the DJ's accomplishments.
Steve Shine is filling in for Butcher on WOWO's morning show. He sent NewsChannel 15 a statement about Butcher's death. Shine said "The community, as well as the broadcast industry, has lost an icon, that will forever be remembered as one of our most beloved personalities."
Butcher was on vacation this week when he died. According to Shine, who was already filling in for him, Butcher takes this week of the year off every year to help his wife get her classroom ready for the first day of school at Southwest Allen County Schools. Coincidentally, Butcher died on his wife's first day back at school Wednesday.
Condolences and memorials for and about Butcher flooded in since news of his death broke. Mayor Tom Henry, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and others shared their thoughts about the legendary broadcaster in social media posts.
Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor who was interview by Butcher several times, called him an "Indiana radio institution" in a statement issued to WANE-TV.
"Karen and I were deeply saddened to learn of passing of a friend and an Indiana radio institution, Charly Butcher. Charly was a friendly voice in the morning for more than 30 years, with a deep commitment to his family and the listening audience. Charly Butcher was a great broadcaster and even better person and he will be missed. We send our prayers and condolences to Sarah, their children, their friends and every Hoosier who will miss this truly good man. God bless Charly Butcher.”
WANE-TV profiled Butcher and Richards back in 1987 in a series about Fort Wayne radio.
City of Fort Wayne spokesperson John Perlich said "Charly Butcher was a well respected and beloved media professional in our community. Mayor Henry had a tremendous amount of respect for Charly and admired his commitment to informing the public throughout his radio career. He will be missed."
"Charly Butcher was a broadcasting icon and a beloved northeast Indiana legend," said Congressman Jim Banks (R) Indiana. "I am heartbroken about his passing, and I will forever cherish the moments I spent with Charly, both on and off air. Our entire region mourns his loss, but his irreplaceable voice and legacy will live on for generations to come."
Congressman Todd Rokita (R) Indiana also released a statement in response to Butcher's passing.
"Tonight my friends in northeast Indiana made me aware of the unfortunate news that my friend, revered WOWO broadcaster Charly Butcher, passed away," the statement said. "It has been an honor and a privilege to accompany Charly on his 'Morning News' segment over the years. Charly is a beacon of truth and courage to all that have known him and has always put the interests of his listeners and community first. Your legacy lives on, my friend.”
Several other people who have worked with Butcher for years shared their memories of him during WOWO's morning show Thursday. They described him as a family man and a staple in the community.
National radio host Glenn Beck spent a few minutes talking about Charly Butcher on his nationally syndicated radio show.
"I want to use Charly as an example of who I'd like to be," Beck said. "Charly made such an impression on me. I knew who he was because each time I met him he was so different (from other people I met) and so genuine. He was just a decent guy and in an industry where there are so few decent people, he stood out, as does almost everybody that works at WOWO. There's something in the water in Indiana. I just want the family at WOWO to know and the people who have gotten up and listened to that voice for 30 years, those of us at the Glenn Beck program mourn with you today."
Butcher is survived by his wife, two daughters, his son and father.
WOWO has asked the public to respect the privacy of Butcher's family during this challenging time, but they encouraged listeners to call or text in to the station to pay their respects and share their own memories of listening to Butcher on the radio.
Service details for Butcher were released Thursday.
Mass of Christian Burial is 10:30 am Monday August 20, 2018, with calling one-hour prior at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 10700 Aboite Center Road. Calling also Sunday, August 19, 2018 from 2 – 8 pm at D.O. McComb and Sons Covington Knolls Funeral Home with a vigil, at 7:30 pm. Burial in Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Memorials may be made to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church or College Fund for his daughter Marissa in care of Sarah Butcher. To sign the online guest book, go to www.domccombandsons.com.
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