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Published: Monday, 8/4/2008

Disc jockey on local radio 50-plus years

Robert F. Martz, 75, a radio personality whose smooth voice and quick wit were heard on Toledo airwaves for more than 50 years, died Saturday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township.

The family declined to give a cause of death.

Mr. Martz of Sylvania began his radio career 52 years ago as a disc jockey in Coldwater, Mich.

"He had this wonderful, magnificent voice," his lifelong friend Connie Swartz said. "Very rich, friendly, and warm. If you ever heard his voice or one of his commercials, you would know it was Bob Martz."

Mr. Martz won many awards from the advertising and broadcasting industry throughout his career, such as the Toledo Advertising Federation's Silver Medal Award for lifetime achievement. In 2004, he was inducted into the Radio/Television Broadcaster's Hall of Fame of Ohio.

In 1958, he made his debut in Toledo on WSPD-AM, and then was general manager of WTOD-AM until the mid-1960s. There, he worked with four or five other radio personalities, where he was the leader of the pack, said Mike Zapiecki, who worked with Mr. Martz at WTOD-AM.

"He was absolutely among the most entertaining guys you could ever meet," Mr. Zapiecki said. "He was an enormous talent in terms of creative writing and being an on-air personality."

He recalled Mr. Martz would sit down at a typewriter and write radio spots, then produce them several hours later.

"He was like a one-man band of production - he would write it, be in it, record it, sell it himself," daughter Stacy Martz said. "He was the whole package."

Mr. Martz also spent time at WOHO-AM and WCWA-AM.

Throughout his career, he brought a variety of music genres - such as country, rhythm and blues, and big band - to Toledo radio, and was known for the comedic commercials that he wrote and performed.

"You couldn't be around him and not laugh," his friend Ms. Swartz said. "He had a wit that was beyond belief."

In 1980, Mr. Martz formed a production company with his friend Terry Shaw. When Mr. Shaw died a few years later, Mr. Martz continued to run the company under the name Robert F. Martz Productions.

Mr. Martz graduated from Waite High School in 1950, and majored in English at the University of Toledo. He then moved to Chicago, where he enrolled in broadcasting school.

"It seems like he was cut out for radio," his daughter Stacy Martz said. "I don't think he ever planned it. It was just something he was good at."

While at UT, he met his future wife, Suzanne. They wed in 1956 and marked 50 years of marriage before she died.

As a father, Mr. Martz was "really silly, all the time," his daughter Stacy Martz said.

"He had a lot of fun with life, and it was fun for us to grow up with that kind of attitude," his daughter Amy Sarachman said.

"I don't understand people who don't have a sense of humor," Mr. Martz told The Blade in March when he celebrated 50 years on the air locally. "Must be a terribly boring life."

Mr. Martz was an avid reader and enjoyed trying new things, his daughter Ms. Martz said.

He raised his daughters with a simple dictum, Ms. Sarachman said: "You can do anything boys can do."

"We played baseball and softball, we were skiers and sailors," she said. "Back then, people didn't raise their daughters like that. This changed because of men like my dad."

Surviving are his daughters, Amy Sarachman, Stacy Martz, and Kristen Bach, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. August 16 at the Walker Funeral Home on Sylvania Avenue.

The family suggests tributes to PLAN of Southwest Ohio, which plans and provides lifelong assistance for people with disabilities.



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