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State College Broadcaster Lends His Voice to Charity

by on February 18, 2018 5:00 AM

When he first arrived in State College, Jeff Brown figured he was here for a temporary six-month pit stop along the road to a full-time broadcasting career in a larger market. In fact, he nearly gave up on State College upon arrival.

Brown had been working part time at a Pittsburgh station, which eventually offered him a full-time job. The only catch was the position was not going to be available for six months. With a baby at home, Brown needed a full-time income to support his young family, so he agreed to interview with a State College radio station, 3WZ, with the intention of leaving for the Pittsburgh job as soon as it was open.
However, when he pulled into the parking lot for his interview, he was taken aback by the appearance of the building the station was housed in.

“The facility was just in horrible shape. It actually had ‘3WZ’ written in soap on the window. And I thought, ‘Oh, no way!’ So I turned around and I left; I didn’t even go in. I got as far as Bellefonte, and I thought, ‘This is stupid, you just drove three hours, at least go talk to them.’”

He went back, and he quickly learned that the station was in the process of building a new facility. He decided to accept the job. 

“I got a call six months later from the station in Pittsburgh, and I turned them down. I said, ‘This  place is perfect for my family, perfect for me, and as much as I love Pittsburgh and would love the thrill of working for a Pittsburgh radio station, I’m happy here.’”

That was almost 30 years ago. Today, Brown is one of the most recognized voices in Centre County. He’s the morning show host on 93.7 The Bus, he’s the announcer at local sporting events, including Penn State basketball games and State College Spikes games, and he works full time at Penn State as an instructor in the Bellisario College of Communications and as the general manager of CommRadio.

Brown can trace his interest in broadcasting back to his childhood in Grove City, where he used to record himself doing play-by-play announcing for NBA games for fun. He also was influenced by KDKA’s Jack Bogut.

“I loved Jack Bogut. My mother listened to him every morning while she was driving us to school. He made my mother laugh, and I always wanted to make her laugh,” Brown said.

But when he enrolled at Slippery Rock University, it was as an elementary education major. He loved interacting with little kids and thought he would make a good kindergarten teacher, he said, but he soon got bored with the curriculum.

“A friend of mine joined the radio station and he talked me into trying it with him.  And the longer I did it, the more people said, ‘You should be in radio.’ So, I switched majors,” Brown said.

Two years ago, Brown was inducted into the inaugural class of the Slippery Rock University Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He returns to mentor the broadcasting students there each year, and loves that part of his job at Penn State as well.

“There’s so much talent here. I’ve had students who’ve gone on to work at ESPN, the Big 10 Network, CNN — it’s just fun to watch them grow, and move up, and take off,” Brown said.

Although Brown is certainly enthusiastic about all of his professional pursuits, he said his favorite aspect of his career is that it affords him the opportunity to lend his voice to charitable causes. While his busy schedule means he has had to cut back on charity events in recent years, he makes time to support several organizations he is passionate about, including the Bob Perks Fund and Centre Volunteers In Medicine. He also headed up a “request-a-thon” at The Bus to raise money for Hurricane Harvey Relief in September.

“It’s just so cool to be able to go out and do something, and raise a bunch of money, and know that a lot of people are being helped, and that I had a small part in it,” Brown said. “The people of this area are the nicest, most caring group of people I’ve ever known. When there’s something to be done — wham — everybody jumps on it. It’s phenomenal.”

Brown also has raised money for charity through his involvement in RamaLama, a local doo-wop group.

“RamaLama started about four years ago, when Tom Wilson, the mayor of Bellefonte, got us together. It is so much fun,” Brown said.

“We recently started doing charity events. We just sang at the American Ale House to raise money for the State College Food Bank, and we raised some pretty significant money there. On Feb. 24, we’ll be doing the same thing for the food bank in Bellefonte during a spaghetti dinner at the Bellefonte Elks. We’re going to go table to table, and for a donation, we’ll sing your request.”

In his limited spare time, Brown enjoys antiquing with his wife, Cathy, acting in community theater productions and relishing what he says is his favorite role of all: being “Grandpa” to his 3-year-old granddaughter.

While reflecting on the full life he’s built here, Brown said he finds himself occasionally asking, “What if I had turned around and left before that interview? Where would I be today? It’s just such a privilege to live and work in this area, and to be able to interact with all of the people here.”


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