Washington

Radio legend Andy Parks, the voice of Washingtonians’ morning commute, dead at 68

Andy Parks, who for more than two decades was the sonorant sound of Washington’s morning commute on WMAL radio and later became the voice of The Washington Times, died Sunday. He was 68.

Mr. Parks had been battling an illness but remained on the front lines of the news, recording his last editions of “Politically Unstable,” his podcast at The Times, in February.

Conservative in his views, Mr. Parks married an everyman’s sense of right and wrong and a healthy dose of indignation to go with a booming voice and gentle manner.

“More than anything, Andy was a prince of a guy. And though he spent a lifetime covering all the crazy shenanigans of this political town, he never lost the straightforward common sense that his listeners loved about him,” said Charles Hurt, opinion editor at The Times and a regular collaborator on podcasts with Mr. Parks. “He will be dearly missed.”

Podcasting was the latest turn in Mr. Parks’ career, which began with working in the family business, Tangier Crab House in Randallstown, Maryland. He also studied accounting and computer programming before heading into radio.

He was working as the airborne traffic reporter for WMAL, taking off from Carroll County Regional Airport to deliver rush-hour reports in the mornings and afternoons — and interjected his own bit of humor into his segments.

Station managers realized he was too good to relegate to a few brief appearances a day and landed him inside the studio, where he remained a fixture of Washington mornings at a time when morning radio was king.

“We were Washington’s wake-up call,” said Fred Grandy, who co-hosted “The Grandy & Andy Morning Show” with Mr. Parks from 2003 to 2010. “We were the first people you heard in the morning with a breaking story.”

And while other shows chased guests or went for outrage, Mr. Grandy said he and Mr. Parks won listeners by playing off each other.

“Real partnerships are rare — few and far between. And when you get one, you know it, and you want to hang on to it,” said Mr. Grandy, a former congressman from Iowa. “I think Andy and I knew pretty quickly this was going to work out.”

“Our audience spanned the spectrum from Cabinet secretaries to Louie in Bowie,” Mr. Grandy said.

After WMAL parted ways with Mr. Parks in 2010, The Times sought him out to launch a radio program, which brought him back to the airwaves in Washington and eventually took him online through a podcasting arrangement with the newspaper.

He interviewed major newsmakers and gave a platform to The Times’ reporters’ work in the increasingly competitive conservative talk radio market.

Ann Wog, who was his producer at WMAL and then came with him to The Times, said booking guests for Mr. Parks was easy. Anyone who’d heard him on WMAL was eager to talk to him again.

Off air, Mr. Parks loved to talk about his family, which friends described as his foundation.

When he wasn’t with them, he could be found on the golf course.

“I think that’s why he liked morning radio — because he worked in the morning and then went golfing,” Ms. Wog said.

Mr. Parks raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Fisher House Foundation and other causes. He won numerous accolades from the community and colleagues, and he was twice a finalist for the National Association of Broadcasters’ Marconi award for Major Market Personality of the Year.

Being a morning radio host on a news-talk station in the nation’s capital put Mr. Parks in contact with some of the biggest names in politics. But people weren’t tuning in for the guests — they wanted to hear Mr. Parks and Mr. Grandy.

“He was the consummate broadcast professional. I was kind of the wise-ass celebrity congressman and his kind of, I think, calm and sober but still very funny demeanor and strong voice on the radio worked very well with whatever I was doing,” Mr. Grandy said.

“Anybody who works in radio is going to tell you you need a great personality to have a successful show. Andy was a great personality. But he was also a great person,” Mr. Grandy said. “Those kinds of people are a little harder to find.”



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