In Memoriam – Tom Scheithe 1950 – 1999


Here are a few posts from folks remembering Tom

Joel Preston:

Tom was the high-energy PD of the WIDB I walked into in December 1970. (Surprising in hindsight that it took me three months to get there!) The station had only been “on the ‘air’” since the prior spring, but already the lore of the place made you want to be a part of it.

As a student — and a shy freshman at that, I knew Tom well enough to be in awe of what he (and others) had done in getting the station on. I was also in awe of his on-air persona: Tom Sutherland. That guy could really work a TIGHT shift.

When I think of Tom, I think “disciplined creativity.” Tom crafted the sound of the station through the format. I have this visual memory in my head of the format clock hanging above that old Gates board, up on the glass wall, next to the clock. It was inviolate. It didn’t make much difference what you wanted to play at any given hour. Whether you were a great jock, so-so jock, or downright abysmal amateur … the format told you what to do next. And it also made you sound pretty damn good, often in spite of yourself! May have been frustrating to some free spirits, but it yielded a reliable product that students could turn to, and know what they were going to get.

Toward the end of that school year, Tom was getting ready to graduate, and was passing the torch. He was free with his advice and encouragement. He seemed to think that a niche could be found for anyone who wanted to be at the station. I got to know him better in a social sense, too. Partying, after all, was the order of the day. After graduation, Tom would occasionally visit — I remember one time in particular during the “dark days” of the sales proposal era. He was a link, filling us in on the reasons WIDB came into being in the first place. It helped us know that the fight was worth fighting.

Through the years, keeping in touch with Tom was one of the joys of the reunions. The next reunion will be bitter-sweet with his physical absence (though I believe he’ll be with us in spirit). I can truly say the WIDB experience changed my life in profound and fundamental ways. What a legacy Tom and the other early leaders passed on! (I’m thinking here of Jerry Chabrian, Howie Karlin, Charlie Muren, Woody Mosgers, Dan Mordini, Jim Hoffman, Harvey Welstein and their cohorts of those early days.) What a debt we owe to them! Of course, they probably view it as just having had a lot of fun. And it was certainly that, too. But, it also taught me a helluva lot. I probably did not say “thank you” enough, to Tom or to the others. Well, now, here it is … no less heartfelt for its being overdue: Thank you. And, Tom, you are missed.

Alan Wood:

Tom was my first sparring partner (in real-time) for glimpses of what I would be up against in the business of radio. Too many entertainment stories are about people who seem to just “walk on” and do their thing, when in reality professional entertainment business is about people like Tom who had learned to spend plenty of time keeping their edge sharp.

At the ’95 Lodge bash, Tom showed to conquer the art of letting go and having a good time, once again putting me to a challenge, even in my advancing age. So I did the moon walk for him and his camera.

is that all there is

let’s keep dancing

If that’s

all there is…


Susie Meyers Bredemann

Tom Scheithe, my friend

Tue Jan 4 01:52:13 2000

I’m still stunned to hear this horrible news. When I first walked into WIDB in the spring of ’70 to apply to be an engineer, Tom was vehimently against having ANY female personnel on staff. With the help of Frank Mazzocco, my try-out went so well that Tom had to let me “in.” After that he became my biggest booster and a very dear friend–so much so, in fact, that he put me on the air and gave me the “honor” of being the first female announcer on WIDB (one of the few decisions I’m sure he regretted later). Nonetheless, he was a great guy and a tremendous friend to me at that time, and I always felt the world was a better place just because Tom was in it. Reading all the posts really sent me back – if anyone wants to get in touch, please do so at Ray and I send our heartfelt sympathy and our prayers to Marcy and the girls. Also, does anyone have any idea what caused this tragedy? Love you Marcy.


Ray Niekamp

Keeping in touch

Tue Jan 4 08:23:53 2000

For about 15 years or so after we graduated, a number of us original WIDBers had an annual get-together, held each year in a new place, at the home of one of the alums. But they tailed off, as fewer made it from year to year. How well I remember two of those events, at Tom’s homes in Rockford, Illinois, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. My wife Pat (Becker) and I stayed in touch with Tom even after the reunions had stopped, and were lucky enough to visit him and Marcy in Winchester two summers ago. We never got to return the favor. Tom was a great friend and his knowledge of the broadcasting business made him a valuable source of career advice. We’ll miss him.


Todd Cave


Wed Dec 29 03:04:34 1999

I’m so sorry to hear about Tom Scheithe’s passing. Tom was such a professional. I remember Tom rightfully giving me hell for sounding bad on-the-air in 1971. The way we sounded was just as important to Tom as if we were WABC in New York City. I also remember being invited into Tom’s room on Friday afternoon at the 1995 reunion to have a beer and talk about radio and our lives. He passed around a handful of those beautiful colorful WIDB playlists from 1970-1972. Tom was a great teacher of radio to us all. We will miss you, Tom….


Dan Mordini

Tom Scheithe

Tue Dec 28 22:12:48 1999

Our condolences to Tom’s family. It is hard to believe when “one of your own” is gone so young and unexpectedly. Having worked with Tom at putting ‘IDB together, I knew him as one who gave 100% in everything he did and a good guy on top of it all. Goodbye, Tom, and watch over the rest of us! OK?


Ed Kasovic

Thanks Tom

Wed Dec 29 10:16:04 1999

I’m still trying to get a clear view of my screen.

The ‘WIDB’ experience has got to be one of the most positive influences on my life. I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. The professionalism that we soaked up while there will never leave any of us. Had not the founding fathers started the ball rolling down the right path and with such strength there would have been nothing. The fact that we are all here, ‘together’, holding on to that ideal will attest to that. Toms giving and demanding nothing less than 100% was his strength from which we all benefited. From all those whose lives he has touched… we will miss him.


Wally Wawro

Tom Schiethe

Tue Jan 4 10:51:14 2000

To Tom I was always “Polock.” It was politically correct to say that back then and considering that I’ve always been a big lunk certainly didn’t bother me in the least. What I remember about the 1971-72 era of WIDB was that it was one big happy family. We were there because we LOVED being there and we loved working with each other. You got a lot out of the WIDB experience and it shows in the success those early “IDB alumns have had in this business
through the years. Tom doesn’t know that he’s partially responsible for me being in Dallas, TX….he introduced me to the 2 or 3 second singing thing called the radio jingle. I thought it might be cool to work for one of those companies and 4 years at TM Productions during it’s late-70′s hey day is thanks enough to a master teacher, and friend. Tom, I’m still sorry about leaving your trailer a mess, but the honor of learning from you is one of the most important lessons I’ve ever

Wally Wawro
Dallas, TX


Jim Rohr

Scheithe brought WIDB Together

Wed Jan 5 10:54:47 2000

It’s a real strange feeling that passes over me when an ‘IDBer of my vintage experiences apparently major technical difficulty, and, without warning signs-off for good. I’m sure that many from my era that have posted (Susie, Joel, Harvey, Ron, Phil, Wally, et al) know the feeling that swept them upon learning of our fallen friend and colleague. Echoes of his common greeting “Hi guy!” are clear and static-free for me even after almost thirty years. “Hi guy, I need to talk to you about jingle production.”

Around the station, Tom was always just known as “Scheithe”. I can still here Pat Becker(Niekamp) yelling for him through our thin studio walls: “Hey! Scheithe! We’re truckin’ to Ma Hales. Tingley’s drivin’ You coming?” To his radio listeners he was Tom Sutherland, the mild-mannered DJ on that station at 600kc you hear only in the dorms but “..where the Hits just keep on comin’ ” Referring to him in the third person in a manner of respect, Tom was also known among his staffers as “Hatchet Man”. As an architect of WIDB’s programming, Tom was responsible for the overall sound of the station. And what a fantastic job he did. If he heard an ill-produced PSA on the air that wasn’t tight, he’d yank it. If free-spirit morning guys Robbie Davis or Mike Murphy broke format in favor of their morning on-air bits n antics, Tom would have to sit them down and go over the importance of the format more time at least (See Joel’s post THINKING OF TOM). All the on-air disciplinary responsibilities fell on Tom; ergo the Hatchet Man title.

Borrowing from some old circa 1970′s WIDB station promo copy, all of us who knew and worked with him would agree that Tom Scheithe was “…just another (big) reason why WIDB was together in more ways than one.”

Good-bye, guy.


Jim Walsh

Final Segue

Sat Feb 12 16:41:41 2000

I’m stunned at the loss of Tom Scheithe. We should start a memorial in his honor.

Tom asked me to join WIDB before it went on the air. I was useless – but I had a desire. Tom had the vision.

I was there for sign on, April ’70. It was great. In the early years we learned more in the basement of Wright-I than any class ever offered in the Comm.Bldg. We learned at night, on weekends, early in the morning.

WIDB was an incubator. Tom was our light. He encouraged us. Scolded us. Pointed us in the right direction. He listened to our ideas…and even used a few.

Thousands of students have tested the radio waves at WIDB in the last 30 years. Any success we may have is owed to visionaries like Tom.

May the God of all pure and perfect seques protect those of us you have left behind.

Your shift may be over brother, but your music plays on.


Marty Bass

Tom Scheithe

Tue Feb 15 14:37:34 2000

Over here on the East Coast news travels slowly, I just learned of Tom’s passing. Tom was good. I came to WIDB with a couple of years experience at small stations around my home in Louisville under my belt. But he understood the dynamics of being smooth and tought me a TON. Example, (when giving a temp), “It’s 71 at Together Radio”, not “Outside its 71 at Together Radio”.

His reason was simple, any moron knows your giving a temp other than in your comfortable studio. That sounds small, but when you add up a dozen or so Scheitheisms you get good. And we were. We have all moved on, but I bet we all made at least one of Tom’s “ideas” part of our broadcasting core. And given the broadcasting ego, THAT is a compliment.

Ditto Jim Walsh’s closing line.

And heres one for Tom:

Rohr, your still a Whore



Tom Scheithe

Tue Feb 15 21:39:39 2000

Unlike many of you, I didn’t know Tom through WIDB, since I am a 1986 graduate. But I did work for him in Ft. Wayne, IN because he gave me and another SIUer our first jobs out of college. He probably hired me just because I was a WIDBer, and I admit I took the job just because he was a WIDBer (and therefore had a certain connection with WIDBer Harvey Wells who worked at WXRT in Chicago which is where I really wanted a job. Tom helped me get that one too a few years later.).

Tom was such a great person and boss and EVERYBODY at WEZV/WEZR adored him. Some things I remember about Tom from those Hoosier days: -He drove a blue Toyota Cressida, best car in the lot. -He gleaned golf balls daily from the station lawn (golf course right next door).

-He acted like it was fairly normal behavior when the Production Director would pelt carts regularly at the studio walls and windows. I thought he was whack.Maybe Tom just put up with Jimmy because he was 6’4″, clearly had a temper, but could do jingles.

-He explained the radio stations operations in every detail. Whenever I was in the building, as opposed to cold-calling on carwashes and Amish-owned hardware stores (duh!), Tom would teach me about anything from budgeting, pacing, trafficking, marketing to programming, whichwas…yikes…automated easy listening on 15-minute-long reels. I didn’t notice the Ball State hire getting quite the extensive tutorials.

-He always called me by my last name.

Since I live in Virginia now, I can tell you that Winchester in the Shenandoah mountain range is a very gorgeous place to live your last days.

And as most of your posts indicate, I too feel VERY LUCKY to have crossed paths with Tom Scheithe.