Steven J. Korte, 1957-2007.

Friday, January 5th, 2007

I was so fortunate to make friends at Ohio University who I’ve laughed with and learned from my entire life.

Now I have to refer to one of them, Steve Korte, in the past tense. I worked with Steve at WOUB, the public TV and radio station at OU that gave us practical experience in what one of my journalism profs loved to call “the workaday world.” That’s Steve at work in this picture from 1977, wearing what looks like an ancient headset and a ‘Hocking Valley Bluegrass’ t-shirt, directing a crew of four through an evening’s programming.

We got an email from Steve’s wife Susan yesterday conveying the sad news that he passed away from an apparent heart attack just minutes into the new year. Susan and Steve met in Athens, worked together early in their marriage at WHBC radio in Canton, Ohio for not much money, and raised a daughter (almost off to college) and a son in a town that had a lot of family connections, but not much in the way of broadcasting opportunities.

He turned his love of pipe organs into a series of gigs (can you call them that?) at churches throughout Canton on Sundays, and used his deep understanding of sound and music to create original compositions, recordings of his and others’ performances, and I can only imagine what albums, tapes, and digital bits of sound he has stashed away over the years.

Like many of the true broadcasters he loved to collect the artifacts that make up radio and television’s young history—classic RCA carbon microphones, old jingle packages from the days when radio had great jingles, and snippets of sound from all over. He took some old audio tapes of mine and his, cleaned them up and sent me a one-of-a-kind CD called ‘J.C.Burns Radio Arcana’, filled with all kinds of wonderful bits from his past and mine, packaged elegantly with a custom-made cover. What a great gift, and of course, its contents wander around with me today on my iPod.

Where some of us would just remember an old song from a Columbus, Ohio kids’ program, he’d sit down and painstakingly, authentically recreate it. Here, please enjoy Steve’s rendering of ‘Wake up Mr. Tree’ from WBNS-TV’s Luci’s Toy Shop, circa 1960-something.

He took a job at Diebold that he was way overqualified for in order to make a good life for his wife and family, but in my mental snapshot he is and was a remarkable father, broadcaster and musician, and I’ll miss him. Our hearts go out to Susan, Lily, and Will.

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Found this obit for Steve in The Marion Star, in his hometown.