“Bob Bittens has been a fixture on Hartford, Connecticut radio for four decades,” says finance expert John Brooks (pictured). Brooks shines a spotlight on Bittens’ contributions to radio and his community, and talks about his current situation.
A Call for Help
By John Brooks
The broadcasting industry has seen its ranks permanently downsized over the last twenty years, first by the fallout from the 1996 Telecommunications Act and then from the financial meltdown and ensuing Great Recession of the late 2000’s. Losing one’s job is hard enough in a weak economy with few alternatives, but imagine that coupled with a personal crisis and you have the makings of a family catastrophe. It’s hard to write about one family without acknowledging the many who have also known hardship.
Bob Bittens has been a fixture on Hartford, Connecticut radio for four decades. He is best known as “Barefoot Bob,” PD and on air personality with his trademark beard and ponytail on rocker WHCN-FM during the late 70s and 80s. In the late 90s he exited WHCN in an ownership change and found new life in advertising sales, first at alternative newspaper, the Hartford Advocate, and later with the regional Clear Channel cluster and crosstown rival WCCC-FM until CCC was sold and flipped to Contemporary Christian.
So why do I write about Barefoot? Bob’s family and mine were friends back in the day. Our daughters, Brooke and Casey, were playmates, two toddlers splashing around naked in the Bittens’ backyard kiddy pool. We lost touch with the Bittens over the years, having moved to California. It was only recently that I reconnected with Bob through Facebook only to discover that he’d been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that affected his most valuable asset – his voice. I’ve been spared the scourge of cancer but I’m no stranger to family catastrophe having lost my Casey at 17 when she leapt to her death from the Golden Gate Bridge.
I like to think of radio as a tribe, so it was gratifying to hear that on Tuesday, July 22 a group from the Connecticut broadcast community, supported by the Advertising Club of Connecticut, held a huge fundraiser on Bob’s behalf to help with the cost of his treatment. It makes me so proud to be part of this club. There is a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign ongoing for anyone else inspired to lend a hand. Bob would never write this piece himself so I’m happy to give a voice to him and many others in our tribe.