In Washington, there was Walt Starling. In New York, Jane Dornacker gained fame for a similar career choice. In Los Angeles, “Commander Chuck” Street was a KIIS-FM staple until Clear Channel laid him off in 2012.
For Denver radio listeners, Don Martin was the “eye in the sky,” or, in local parlance, Denver’s “Sky Spy” over three decades. Martin died this week; he was believed to be in his 80s.
Local alternative weekly Westword paid tribute to Martin, who it says was “a giant of Denver broadcasting.”
“Anybody who grew up here in Denver in the ’60s, as I did, knew him,” ex-broadcaster Dan Hopkins, a family friend of Martin’s and a former spokesperson for Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, told the publication. “They knew KIMN. They knew him as an airborne traffic reporter, and they knew him as the newsman they turned to when there was breaking news. Back then, there was no TV spot news. There were no satellite uplinks. If it was going to be live, it was going to be on radio, and most of it was done on KIMN by Don Martin.”
Martin first began doing airborne traffic reports in the 1950s. This was after starting his career at KDFN, when as a Junior at South High School, Martin built and programmed his own radio station.
He’d later gain fame at KIMN, a Top 40 station that dominated the market until FM radio stations attracted music fans. Unlike the typical traffic reporter, he’d offer first-account accounts of fires, among other things.
When KIMN was sold, Martin went to an AM/FM combo across town, but a subsequent sale of KIMN led the new owners to invite him back. He later ended up at KOA, today an iHeart News/Talk leader.
In 1982, he formed Don Martin Productions, providing audio services to such radio advertisers as Shane Co.; Martin voiced its commercials, familiar to those in such locales as Portland, Ore.
No further information was known at RBR+TVBR‘s Friday news deadline.