Broadcaster for WSPD helped wake Toledoans

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — Charles “Chuck” Parmelee, a WSPD-AM radio broadcaster whose dulcet voice helped wake up Toledoans for decades, died of complications from heart disease Saturday in Imperial Point Medical Center, near his home here.

He was less than two hours from his 70th birthday.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Parmelee was the host of the Alarm Clock morning show on WSPD, then the dominant radio station in Toledo, often earning more than half of the area’s total listenership.

“He was the morning man in Toledo,” said Jim Rudes, a former colleague of Mr. Parmelee’s at WSPD who went on to a career in television. “Everybody listened to Chuck Parmelee in the morning.”

He was born and raised in Toledo and graduated from Scott High School before attending Purdue University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business education.

He began working at WSPD in 1948 and stayed there until 1973. His only break from the station was during the Korean War, when he assisted the war effort by broadcasting on the Far East Network to American and United Nations troops.

When he came back from the war, he hosted the morning show, which featured news, discussion of the day’s events, and Top 40 music.

“What I remember about him is that he was such a pleasant guy on the air,” Mr. Rudes said. “There was no abrasion at all. Just a pleasant guy, nothing like you hear today with these shock jocks. He just had a pleasing personality.”

Every hour, legendary news anchor Jim Uebelhart would read the day’s news, and he would often chat on air with Mr. Parmelee in between segments.

“I remember growing up and listening to him before going to school,” said his nephew Robb Parmelee, now a teacher at Clay High School. “He always had to go to bed early to get up that early.”

Outside the radio studio, Mr. Parmelee was noted for his forever boyish looks. “That man just did not age,” Mr. Rudes said, comparing him to ageless disc jockey Dick Clark.

His young looks ruined his one very brief stint in television in the 1950s. “He was doing a beer commercial on TV,” Robb Parmelee said. “But nobody could believe that this guy doing the commercial was of legal drinking age, and the station got a lot of complaints from concerned citizens. He got pulled back to radio.”

Mr. Parmelee was almost 30 at the time.

In 1956, when Elvis Presley came to Toledo to play at the Sports Arena, Mr. Parmelee scored an interview with the star, fresh out of his army service. Later in life, he liked to give others prints of the photo taken of him and The King.

Mr. Parmelee left WSPD in 1973 when management decided to overhaul its on-air staff. He moved to Florida and worked at several radio stations there, including doing a motivational talk show on a faith-based station, his nephew said. But after a few years, he developed emphysema and was unable to do much talking without tiring.

As his voice weakened, he switched to an FM station that didn’t require much talking between songs and, finally, to doing radio commercials. At around age 64, he couldn’t work any longer. “That may seem like an appropriate retirement age, but he was the kind of guy who liked to keep going all the time,” his nephew said.

Surviving are his mother, Mildred Parmelee; and two nephews, Charles II and Robb Parmelee. The body will be cremated and no services will be held.