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Published: Thursday, 1/9/2003

'78 blizzard didn't silence radio host

ARLINGTON, Ohio - Gary Michael “Mike” McKitrick, a broadcaster with several area radio stations, most recently WFOB in Fostoria, died Monday in his home here. He was 64.

Mr. McKitrick died of a heart attack, said Mark McKitrick, his only child.

Mr. McKitrick was the host of a two-hour local talk show on WFOB that aired at 10 a.m. weekdays featuring interviews with local newsmakers. During the 1970s, he hosted the morning show on WFIN in Findlay.

Greg Peiffer, WFOB's general manager, said Mr. McKitrick was particularly well-known for having manned the microphones at WFIN single-handedly, for more than 30 hours, during the blizzard of 1978.

“He did it straight through, without any sleep. Nobody else could get to the station,” Mr. Peiffer said. Son Mark said his father walked two miles through the howling storm to get to the station from his downtown Findlay apartment.

A Findlay native, he graduated from Findlay High School in 1957 and attended Furman University, Greenville, S.C. Before starting his broadcasting career, Mr. McKitrick worked for Marathon Oil Co., and he returned to Marathon in the early 1980s to improve his income. He also worked at Cooper Tire & Rubber for a short time.

But broadcasting's siren lured him back in 1988 for what would prove to be the first of two stints at WFOB. In between those stints, from 1991 until January, 1998, he worked for a low-powered television station in Bucyrus, Ohio, then at WFND-TV, Channel 47, in Findlay as a news anchor.

“He was an excellent interviewer,” said Bill Slack, a childhood friend with whom Mr. McKitrick broadcast Findlay High basketball games in the 1970s. “He would talk about anything. He was a copious reader.”

Along with the talk show at WFOB, Mr. McKitrick broadcast Blanchard Valley Conference basketball play-by-play for WBVI, a WFOB sister station in Findlay.

Surviving are his son, Mark; mother, Esther; brothers, Larry and Tim, and sister, Dee Federspill.

Services will be at noon tomorrow in the Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.



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