Radio Legend Bob Furlow Passes Away

Radio Legend Bob Furlow Passes Away

Legendary Baton Rouge radio broadcaster Bob Furlow, 76, died Aug. 23, 2015, after a struggle with pancreatic cancer.  At WLCS, Furlow hosted the No. 1-rated morning show in Baton Rouge in the 1960’s and was a force in the Baton Rouge media market until his death.

Bob Furlow was a proud graduate of Istrouma High and narrated Istrouma football games on WLCS live from Memorial Stadium with Gene Nelson.  Furlow was hired by the station after sitting on the WLCS roof for more than a week, in protest that the station had refused to hire him.  The station’s staff initially condemned Furlow on the air for his antics but eventually turned against management and demanded that he be hired.  It was, of course, all a stunt, designed by Furlow and program director Gene Nelson, to keep people in Baton Rouge talking about the station and the launch of Bob Furlow’s career at WLCS.

After a number of years on the air, Furlow moved into management.  Then he managed radio stations in Jackson, MS, and WIBR in Baton Rouge.  In 1979, he founded Furlow & Associates, an advertising agency and public relations firm that produced award-winning radio and television commercials. He was awarded the coveted Pete Goldsby Advertising Award.

Later, he became a deacon in the Catholic Church and led retreats at Manresa House of Retreats.  As Director of Communications for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, he founded the Catholic television channel on Cox Cable and hosted a local cable program on the channel for years.

Born “Robert E. Furlow, Jr.” in Franklin County, MS, in 1939, Furlow later learned that he did not actually have a middle name, only an initial.  His father was Robert Everett Furlow, Sr., but Bob said he was not “Everett,” only “E.”

Nevertheless, the lack of a middle name proved not to be a handicap.  Furlow had a youthful voice that was vibrant even into his late 70’s.  When he trained announcers, he told them, “Let them ‘hear’ your smile!” and he always did that himself.

In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Baton Rouge radio completed the change from long-form programs to a format of news and music.  But how that new format would work was very much being decided.

WLCS station executives Lamar Simmons, Gene Nelson, and Bob Furlow developed a very tightly produced mix of outstanding news, Top 40 music, traffic, weather, and special events. The music brought listeners, and news brought credibility. The station had a first-rate news team. Baton Rougeans normally got their news on radio, quite often WLCS, long before they heard about it on the 6 o’clock news on TV or read about it in the Advocate the next day.  The spontaneity was much like cable news or the Internet today.  News breaks happened throughout the day, and the station did not hesitate to go live to the Courthouse, the riverfront or wherever news was happening. When listeners tuned to WLCS, the voice they often heard was that of Bob Furlow.

Late in life, Furlow became Episcopalian and a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

His father was from Lincoln County, MS, and his mother Cleo Mullins was from Franklin County, MS.  He had four siblings — Paul (Buddy) Furlow, James (Jim) Furlow, Sue Furlow Janét, and Margie Furlow Long.  He had three children and six grandchildren.  The children are Michael Scott Furlow, Stacy Furlow Green, and Christopher James Furlow.  His daughter Stacy has two children — Alyssa Green Dryden and Joshua T. Green.  His son Chris has four children — Harrison, Adeline, Cooper, and Beatrice Furlow.

His funeral was held at St. Luke’s on Thursday, Aug. 27.  It was led by Father Bryan Owen and Deacon Reese Wiggins. He was buried at Resthaven.

— Woody Jenkins

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