For 66 years, Bob Steele was the voice of Connecticut radio. His biographer seeks to keep his memory alive

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For 66 years the voice of legendary broadcaster Bob Steele greeted Connecticut radio listeners, delivering the news, weather — always at 25 past the hour, sports scores, his signature word of the day and even stories for children. Known as the voice of Southern New England, Steele died nearly 19 years ago, but Paul Hensler is determined to keep his memory alive.

Hensler, author of “Bob Steele on the Radio: The Life of Connecticut’s beloved broadcaster,” undertook a biography of the popular WTIC broadcaster in part because he was surprised that nobody else had. Another reason: though he’s a National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, “Bob Steele is not a member of the Connecticut Hall of Fame. That baffled me. He was on the air for so many decades. He was the voice of Southern Connecticut. That’s why I wrote the biography.”

Hensler will discuss Steele’s life, voice and achievements on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. Hensler’s in a Zoom talk sponsored by the New Haven Museum.

It was Steele’s even temperament and predictable style that won many listeners’ hearts, Hensler said.

“He had a self-deprecating sense of humor. He wanted to engage people. ... With segments like ‘Word for the Day,’ he wanted people to educate themselves the way he educated himself. He realized that there’s a time for both formal and informal manners of speaking. And it was all infused with a sense of humor.”

Steele joined WTIC radio in Hartford in 1936 when he was in his mid-20s. By 1943 he started hosting the morning show, and kept doing it for the next 45 years. He left his full-time gig at TIC in 1989 but continued to do a Saturday morning show for more than a decade after his supposed retirement. Steele died in December 2002 at the age of 91.

The book was published in August of 2019 and Hensler did some signings and speaking engagements then. COVID stalled the momentum but now he’s back giving both virtual and live presentations. Many of the talks are at senior centers or historical societies.

“You have to be of a certain age,” Hensler said of those who recall prime Bob Steele. “There’s fewer and fewer who remember his voice.

“He was enormously popular as an after-dinner speaker, so popular that he would set higher fees, hoping that whoever was booking him couldn’t afford it so he wouldn’t have to do as many, but that always found the extra money.”

Yet any efforts to retire, the book makes clear, were halfhearted, and it became a running joke that he wouldn’t leave.

“He was on the air for so long,” Hensler said, “he knew no other way of life.”

Since Steele remained one of the highest rated radio hosts in the country even after over half a century on the air, WTIC didn’t mind renewing his contract.

“He never left WTIC. He was offered fantastic amounts of money to go to other stations, whether in Connecticut or other parts of the country. But he wanted to stay where he was. He said he’d developed that connection with Hartford, and what if that same connection didn’t happen in another city?”

In the book, Hensler relates how for most of his six decades on the air, Steele got up at 4 a.m. to do his morning show, stayed at the station through the afternoon to do some announcing work, then did his nightly “Strictly Sports” feature at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to interviews with Steele’s sons, much of Hensler’s research for “Bob Steele on the Radio” came from 10 volumes of Steele’s scrapbooks and diaries which the broadcaster’s son Phil had donated to the Hartford Historical Society at the Hartford Public Library.

”He would always do the weather at 25 past the hour, for instance. He kept the trains running on time,” Hensler said.

To attend the free virtual “Bob Steele on the Radio” lecture by Paul Hensler on Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m., register at

Christopher Arnott can be reached at

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