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December 27, 2006

Radio personality dies

Host of ‘Morning Road Show’ stricken while speaking on-air

CUMBERLAND — Chazz Offutt, a fixture on Cumberland radio since 1959, collapsed and died Tuesday morning during his popular “Morning Road Show” broadcast on WTBO.

Offutt, 66, was stricken as he was speaking on-air.

“I was listening to Chazz. He had just said the time, 20 minutes after 8, and all of a sudden I heard a noise and then there was just nothing,” said Joanne Van, mother of Jim Van, one of Offutt’s fellow DJs. “The mike was open and I heard somebody say ‘Chazz,’ then I heard them say ‘Call 911,’ then Jimmy called and gave me the bad news. People will miss Chazz. He is a wonderful man.”

The station’s general manager, Richard Cornwell, said the value of Offutt’s show for WTBO was priceless.

“And I don’t mean that in a financial way. I mean that it was priceless for what he meant to the town, to listeners, to all of us at the station. There is only one Chazz with two Zs. That’s how we all knew him,” Cornwell said.

Cornwell was instrumental in getting Offutt back into radio after a two-decade career change.

“He sold ads for the newspaper and I did the same for WTBO and our paths crossed often. He told me how much he missed radio and we were able to make it happen,” Cornwell said.

Pat Corrado, an advertising representative for WTBO, was at home Tuesday when he learned the news.

“In the 1960s we were both 3 to 6 (p.m.) disc jockeys. Chazz was on WCUM and I was on WTBO. We were friendly rivals and became close friends.

“Chazz’s morning show had listeners everywhere. Our 560 frequency has a big reach, and people listened in Martinsburg (W.Va.) and Connellsville (Pa.). He loved playing solid gold and interviewing performers such as Chubby Checker and Bobby Vinton.”

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