BOBBY BENNETT: I REMEMBER THE MIGHTY BURNER AND THE WAY WE WERE!
Top: Sonny Hill, HB, Bobby and Jerry Phillips / Bobby, HB and Joe Lewis Abney Bottom: Bobby and Jim Vance
Marshall Payne aka Bobby Bennett was born on July 20, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He went home to be with the Lord on Monday September 8, 2015, he was 72 years of age.
He knew from a young age, he wanted to be a radio DJ. After graduating from high school he enrolled in a broadcasting school in Pittsburgh. In 1967, Bobby worked as a news reporter for Pittsburgh’s WAMO-AM and WZUM radio stations.
He would leave Pittsburgh for DC and join WOL Radio and make radio history. His new radio family were colorful characters with names like Night Hawk, Mr. C, Soul Poppa and Sonny Jim. Bobby’s trademark name was “The Mighty Burner.” They took DC by storm in 1968 shortly after the riots and made radio music history that has yet to be matched. It didn’t matter what rating system you were using in the 60s and 70s every radio station in DC’s “Chocolate City” ran a distant second behind WOL.
I met Bobby in 1969 shortly after he had arrived in DC.
In 1972, he was named Billboard magazine’s R&B Disc Jockey of the Year, and, in 1973, was recognized as Disc Jockey of the Year by the Gavin Report.
Bobby left WOL in 1980 and became a sports talk show host on WTOP in the early 1980s. I was not surprised, he was always a “Closet Sportscaster.’ For example; before leaving WOL along with the infamous legendary radio and television personality Petey Greene, they helped me launch my ground breaking “Inside Sports” talk show that led me to W-O-O-K Radio in 1970 and beyond.
Petey did a Donald Trump on me “You are fired” but Bobby had an ace up his sleeve and picked up my option. I remember it very clearly when Bobby first broached the sports talk radio show subject to me. My wife Hattie and I were at his home in Silver Spring where he and His wife Connie were hosting a party one evening for several NFL players that included wide-receiver Reggie Rucker out of Anacostia High School in DC and several of his teammates from the Cleveland Browns. The topic of me co-hosting a sports talk show with him came out of the blue, he said, “HB I am thinking about producing a sports talk show on Saturdays, you want to co-host?” My response was ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ The rest is sports talk radio history.
After leaving WOL his next radio job was program director for WHUR-FM from 1987 to 1992, Bobby’s next stop was as a morning talk show host at WXTR. In 1997, he became the host of an R&B radio show on WPFW-FM. In 2000 according to legendary WPFW FM Caribbean talk show host, Von Martin, “Bobby was always an uplifting and spiritual soul.” Bobby later created the “Soul Street” channel for Satellite XM Radio, and served as its program director until 2010. During his career, he also was employed as a record executive and a voice over narrator.
When I heard that he and his wife Connie were moving to Florida I was surprised. DC was Bobby’s adopted second home and Connie was a successful businesswoman in her own right. But he decided to follow his good friend and buddy, Bruce Colson and his wife Ida into a retirement community in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Retirement was just a word to Bobby. He was an excellent voice-over narrator for Corporate America. I would often hear him on radio stations here in the DMV doing commercials for the entertainment concert industry. In conversations with Bruce at the historic Langston Golf Course in NE DC which was always one of his first stops on visits back to DC, I would ask him about Bobby, and he would say, “Bobby is just as busy as ever.” His health in recent years had not been good but he refused to slow down. On Tuesday morning I got the call from Bruce that Bobby had died. The calls, e-mails and texts from Von Martin, Frank Jones, Jake Jasmine, Marion Buck Stallworth and Ted Hillman would follow.
Marshall and Connie Payne were high school sweethearts and they had just celebrated 51 years of marriage in July. Marshall aka Bobby will be coming back home to the city that he loved for his home going services. The services will be held at Immanuel’s Church on New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland on Friday September 18, 2015. He was a Deacon in good standing in the church. He and Connie taught a Sunday School Class together. Viewing will be from 10-12 and home going services will follow. A Memorial Service will follow on Tuesday in Florida.
MARSHALL’S PAYNE’S THREE MINUTE DASH
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of friend. He referred to the dates on his tomestone from the beginning to the end. He noted first came the date of his birth and spoke of the following dates with tears but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represented all the time he lived here on earth and only those he loved knew how much that little dash was worth.
He said, for it matters not how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how he lived and loved and how he spend that dash. So think about about this long and hard are there there things you like to change? For you never know how much time is left—–that you can still re-arrange.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what is true and real and try to understand the way other people feel. Be less quick to anger and show appreciation more—love the people in our lives like we have never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and often wear a smile remembering this special dash will only last for just a little while. So when your eulogy is being read and your life’s actions are being rehashed will you be proud of the things they say and how you spend your dash?
Marshall Payne’s Dash was well spend–I was an eye-witness. Thank you my brother and rest in peace.