Legendary Grand Rapids radio announcer Bruce Grant has died. Family says Grant died peacefully April 23, after a brief illness. Bruce Grant was 92.
Grant was the WOOD Radio morning show host for 32 years, as much a part of West Michigan mornings as bacon and eggs. Generations of radio listeners began their day listening to Grant’s creative, entertaining mix of humor, optimism, and interview skills coming from the radio in their kitchen, bathroom, car, or their trusty transistor radio.
“He was a man that was very much wrapped up in life and living. He had great love for his work. He had great love for his family. He had a great love for Grand Rapids and certainly for the people he woke up each morning during his 32-year career at WOOD RADIO.” — Former WOOD RADIO General Manager Jim White.
Bruce R. Grant was born on December 14, 1923 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of twelve, he began playing second lead harmonica with the biggest country and western spectacular of its day, “The Early Morning Country & Western Entertainers,” starring Cowboy Copas, Merle Travis, and Red Foley, which was broadcast on Cincinnati’s WSAI radio.
Bruce’s entourage toured Cincinnati, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis during summers. After graduating from high school, Bruce attended the University of Cincinnati and the Schuster-Martin School of Drama.
“Bruce personified old-school radio. I’m envious of the era he came from, when the announcers did everything. They played the music, did the news, the sports, read the weather… even took listener phone calls if the feeling came to them.” — Former WOOD RADIO Sports Director Rick Berkey,
Bruce Grant was a WWII Marine who served his country in the Pacific Theatre.
Grant began his radio Grand Rapids radio career on WJEF in 1949. After five years, Bruce was hired as program director and announcer at WGRD. In 1959, Bruce Grant began his service at WOOD RADIO earning recognition and awards along the way. In addition to his duties behind the WOOD RADIO microphone, Grant also led the radio station’s many charitable efforts.
At his celebrity roast prior to retirement, Grant downplayed his accomplishments telling a capacity crowd at the Amway Grand Plaza’s Ambassador Ballroom that he was honored to be a part of so many lives and watch the growth of Grand Rapids. After withstanding the many radio and television celebrities and their kind-hearted barbs, Grant broke celebrity roast tradition. Rather than return fire, Grant said he’d learned long ago “if a gentleman doesn’t have something nice to say, he shouldn’t say anything at all.”
Following his retirement from his morning show duties in 1985, Grant remained busy with the occasional WOOD RADIO weekend broadcast and charitable work with March of Dimes, Red Cross, and Muscular Dystrophy among others, eventually leaving radio in 1991.
“I would say he was the most perfect host. He never made a mistake. Always connected to his audiece and the way he used the voices on the air to marry to his own commentary. Frankly, I was in awe of him.” –Former WOOD RADIO News Director Greg Moceri.
Bruce Grant is survived by his children, Patti and Todd Johnson, Jim and Kathleen Grant of Oregon; his grandchildren Jordan Johnson and his wife Emily Besley, Alex Johnson, Mikki Johnson, Charlie Grant, Libby Grant; sister-in-law Patricia Walcott and many nieces and nephews.
Family Graveside services were held at Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids. Family requests that in Bruce’s memory, memorial contributions be made to Grandville-Jenison Congregational Church or to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.