Editor’s Note: “Big Chuck” D’Imperio, radio personality and author, assess Joe Campbell’s impact on Oneonta at the “Voice of Oneonta’s” memorial service Saturday. This is an excerpt.
By CHUCK D’IMPERIO • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
When I joined WDOS in 1989 I was a fairly young guy, not even 40-years-old yet.
And the station was filled with young people, from sales to administrative to on-air and to management. But there were two old guys at the station that many of us will never forget. One of them was Bob Whittemore, the crusty cigar chewing sports guy who talked a mile a minute and knew many of the great baseball players on a first name basis.
And the other “old guy” was Joe Campbell. Having been around both of these legendary figures in radio, and me having never spent a minute in a broadcast booth, well, let’s just say that I learned at the feet of giants.
Joe Campbell was a one-of-a kind in this or any other community of its size.
Everybody knew Joe, liked him, respected him and enjoyed his many talents. I remember when I started out more than 30 years ago I was nervous and not very confident of really what to do. I would stand in the studio behind Joe and watch him through the glass partition.
He was definitely old school, that is for sure. He cupped his ear when he spoke, he had a story about every singer, song and big band that he played and he had a magical rapport with all of his listeners. I watched Joe and learned from him. We all did.
Joe was one of the last true gentlemen. I never knew Joe to wear a hat, but if he did he would certainly have tipped it when greeting a lady on the street. His handshake was hearty, his laugh was infectious and his pure joy for the art of broadcasting was unlike I have ever seen before or since.
The 100 friends and admirers at “Voice of Oneonta” Joseph Campbell’s memorial service this morning certainly did, wife Judith reminded them of one of her husband’s favorite exhortations in good times and bad: “Life is just a bowl of cherries. Everything will be OK.”
That wasn’t always the case for Campbell, you might think, but you’d be wrong, judging from the testimony at the hour-long service at the Elks Club.
In failing health, he spent the last few years before he passed away at Hampshire House, but he loved life to the end, said son Joe: When one of his granddaughters reminded him he was almost “91 and a half,” Campbell was delighted. He passed away on March 6, 2019, at “91 and a half,” after hearing “The Campbells Are Coming,” performed on bagpipes.
ONEONTA – The funeral service for Joe Campbell, “The Grand Old Man of Oneonta Radio,” Mr. C and Coach Campbell, is at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday, July 27), at the Elks Club on Chestnut Street. Friends are welcome.
Age 91, he passed away March 6, 2019, while listening to “The Campbells Are Coming” on
The service will include a eulogies by his son, Joseph Jr., by DJ and author Chuck D’Imperio, and by Joe’s brother William.
In addition to coaching and teaching, Joe’s show, “Sentimental Journey,” was broadcast on WDOS for 50 years, (1952-2002).
I came to know Joe while teaching and coaching at Oneonta High School. He was my assistant coach for the JV football team and helped us go undefeated for four straight years.
Joe was a gentle person who cared deeply about his athletes. He was a fitness advocate and, believe me, our athletes were fit. They looked forward to our games as they were “easier” than practice.
In the four years we worked together, Joe never held anything back, but he was a gentleman with regards to how he made our differences known.
I always knew where he stood and I always knew he would go to the mat for me or the team.
There’s really not a greater tribute one can pay to a person and friend than to say he was a class act – and Joe was, in every sense of the expression, a class act. We’ll miss him.
Editor’s Note: This article recounting “Voice of Oneonta” Joe Campbell’s career in radio appeared on Jan. 14, 2011, in Hometown Oneonta. A legend in his adopted hometown, he passed away early Wednesday morning, March 6, 2019. An obituary and memory book are available from the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements. Meanwhile, take a walk down Memory Lane.
By JIM KEVLIN
from HOMETOWN ONEONTA, (Jan 13, 2011)
ONEONTA – Spending a few hours with Joe Campbell is a “Sentimental Journey” indeed.
He’s immediately in character, and there are lots of them.
There he goes: “Jack Armstrong, all American boy,” he intones. “Wave the flag for Hudson High, boys.”
Then a commercial break for Armstrong’s sponsor, Wheaties: “Won’t you try Wheaties, the best breakfast found in the land?”
Then on to “Little Orphan Annie: She’s a little chatterbox, that gal with auburn locks.” At the key point, Sandy chimes in: “Arf, arf.”
At almost 84, Joe Campbell, “The Voice of Oneonta,” whose “Sentimental Journey” – spoofs of those old radio shows, plus Big Band favorites, aired for decades over WDOS-AM 730, Oneonta – still captivates.
Editor’s Note: Joe Campbell’s son, Joe Jr. sent out this message to friends on the passing of his dad, the voice of Oneonta for decades, on March 6, 2019. Joseph P. Campbell was born on Aug. 30, 1927, in Moosic, Pa. A full obituary will follow shortly from the Grummons Funeral Home, which is handling the arrangements.
I want to let you know that my father passed away on Wednesday 3/6/19 at 4:05 pm after hearing “The Campbells are Coming” on the bagpipes surrounded by family in Bassett Hospital. Dad lived 91½ wonderful years and had his wits about him until the end.
There will be a memorial service to be scheduled at a teacher-friendly time, with so many family members following in his footsteps. We will keep you posted. Thank you for your friendship and support.