"The King"

Photo, Brian Ausfeld

The news came out late yesterday afternoon that after a long wait for a heart transplant, Robert Ausfeld passed away after complications from the surgery. He was 64.

You may have seen articles posted already, or perhaps Facebook posts from your favorite air personalities, friends or business owners. I could only assume that when you do read about the enormous loss that we are all feeling and how loved Bob was you may be thinking, "I wish I knew him." Well, you did.

If you have ever listened to the radio in the Capital District you have been touched by Bob. From the time he began his career in radio, he has been making decisions and choices that he knew would affect so many. Fortunately for all of us, his commitment to providing great entertainment and service to the area was profound.

Bob Ausfeld, in fact, was responsible for bringing the Capital Region some of its greatest morning shows, including "Mason and Sheehan," "Howard Stern," "Wolf and Mulrooney," and of course, "The Sean and Richie Show," each of which spent significant time as the No. 1 morning show in the market. He wasn't only instrumental in bringing them to the Albany airwaves, more importantly he gave them the space and the tools they needed to become No. 1.  If you have loved any of those shows, you loved Bob Ausfeld.

It also wasn't just the morning shows he cultivated and mentored. There is a good chance that most of the air personalities you have listened to throughout the years were hired by or supported and mentored by Bob. Great radio stations like K-Lite 101, Pyx 106, WTRY, WGNA, Fly 92, B95 and so many more have at one time have been managed by him. If you have loved any of those stations, then you loved and were touched by Bob Ausfeld.

"The Bobfather"

In the title, I referred to Bob as "The King" because that was one of his nicknames. He was referred to by many in our industry as the "King of Albany Radio." He had other nicknames as well, one of which that you will hear about is "Bobfather."

It makes perfect sense when you see the man enter a room, the confidence he exuded, the incredible tailored suits, the slick hair and of course the jewelry. Ugh, the watches and rings! You could easily make the connection to the role that Marlon Brando made so famous. You could easily jump to the conclusion that there was some Italian roots that led to that persona and maybe there were, we never really knew because Bob was adopted.

While that may indeed be why many liked to call him the "Bobfather," there are some of us very lucky people who called him that for a different reason. We called him that because he truly was our father. Maybe it was because he was adopted that he understood how to make strong family connections  with people whom which he shared no DNA. He could make connections with people like no one else I've ever known. And if you were "adopted" by Bob, it was for life. Family is something that Bob Ausfeld took very, very seriously. In fact, I think it defined him.

Photo, Sean McMaster

I lost my dad when I was 18 and truthfully I had had many issues with him growing up, whether he intended it to happen or not, Bob quickly became my surrogate father. Bob knew things about me that no one else knows, he knew my insecurities, my medical issues, my childhood traumas and my greatest fears, and I knew many of his. What I loved about him is that he never used any of those things against me. Instead, he always encouraged my strengths and talents. Many times he'd see strength in me when I couldn't. Sometimes he would give me the most amazing advice when I'd talk to him about something that was going on in my life from small issues at work, or daily life issues to helping go through losing my mother, divorce, cancer, and so many more. Other times he would say, "This is one I can't help you with Sean, you have to follow your heart but I know you will do the right thing and I'll have your back."

What makes that all the more amazing is there are so so many people who felt the same way and had a very similar relationship with Bob. He just had so much love to give the world.

The Man

I hope that if you did not know Bob personally, after reading what I have written maybe you have at least begun to understand how much he meant to the broadcasting industry in our area and perhaps maybe even gotten an idea of why he was loved so much by all of us who had the pleasure to work with him. The real truth about the loss many are feeling, however, simply had nothing to do with radio—it is all about the man.

Photo, Michael Gallitelli

As I said earlier, in my opinion the love Bob had for his family defined him as a person. Yes he loved his extended family and often treated us as we were his children, but his example of what a father and husband can and should be is what I think should be most remembered.

Bob would admit to most that he wasn't always perfect. He made mistakes and I know that there were things in his life, as with all of us, that he would love to have been able to do differently. He never dwelled on any of that though. He moved forward, he got better, he improved and always tried to be the kind of man his kids would look up to. That was never going to be an issue however to his three children. Corey, Brian and Morgan all knew how amazing he was and sometimes all but worshiped him. In them, and his grandchildren, he has left us all with a very large piece of himself and for that we are truly grateful.

I think, though, if you were ever to ask me to sum up the impossible as quickly as I could, "How do you know Bob Ausfeld was a truly great man?" I'd say simply, "Look at his wife."

If Bob could get this woman, the most beautiful, sweetest most amazing woman, to fall  in love with him, and stay by his side for so many years as she has done, I cannot think of a greater measure of the man he was and always strived to be. And if I could ask you one favor after reading this: if you have been inspired by our love of Bob, if you have indeed enjoyed the work he has done through the years, if you are feeling even a little loss in the passing of our "Bobfather," then please take a moment to close your eyes and send some love and well wishes to what mattered most to him: his beautiful wife, Marion and their kids.

Rest in peace, my friend.