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Rockland ushers in the end of an era
By Tina Traster
It is the end of an era. The voice that has guided us through hurricanes, power outages, snowy days and everyday, sinks gently into the night. WRCR icon Steve Possell hangs up his headphones and mic, and hands the operations board to someone new (TBD). He will retire on August 13e.
“It’s about time,” said Possell, 72, sitting at WRCR AM 1700 one recent morning after his 6-10 a.m. show “Steve & Jeff In The Morning”.
“It was a good race,” he said. “I’m going to reorganize my huge collection of jazz records. Maybe fix clocks. Putting around the house. Some things need to be fixed. And maybe I’ll have a little job.
An icon, Possell’s easy manners, unsupervised commentary, and archival knowledge have earned him a unique place in the community. Modest, says Possell after leaving the station, no one will remember him. We all know this is not true.
“I will miss him,” said Morning Show co-host Jeff Lewis. “His point of view, his unique point of view that goes back to Rockland in the 1970s, it’s not replaceable.”
When Possell was a little boy, he wanted to be a firefighter. Living in the Bronx, he and his mother passed by the fire station every morning. “I remember the engines coming and going.” He was constantly talking to his mother about his dreams. Blind from birth, Possell’s mother finally made him realize that he needed another dream. Possell, always disjointed and resourceful, found this passion on the air.
But over the course of a 50-year radio career, Possell has, metaphorically speaking, extinguished countless fires.
“I remember one morning, after a huge snowstorm, an elderly couple couldn’t leave their home. I begged anyone with a plow to come out and dig them up, and someone did.
What Possell cherishes most about his chair as a Unique Bully is his ability to help and guide people. Whether it’s an everyday or a philosophical topic, the radio man likes to tip, guide people who need to complete a bureaucratic task, or rise and fall on the state of the world.
Nothing saddens Possell more than the state of talk radio today.
“It’s so polarized, and it’s a shame,” he said. “People are being manipulated. It’s radio garbage meant to entice people. It appeals to our lowest instincts. Fewer and fewer people want to have intelligent speech. I just don’t know what the future of talk radio is.
Possell has a long vision of the radio industry, having worked there for 50 years. Before joining the WRCR, he worked at the now defunct WRKL AM 910 for 30 years. Possell began working in radio during his college days at Holy Cross. In his first year, he learned to manage the board on his own by creating a braille diagram and memorizing it. The owners of the resort were skeptical, but Possell quickly proved his worth. And what a job – and what a weather – it was. Summer 68. Woodstock. The moon landing. About as exciting, Possell believed, as fighting fires.
“Steve’s passion for Rockland County and its people was evident every time he turned on the microphone, queued a record or loaded a cart,” said Alexander Medakovich, owner of the WRCR station. “In an era where technology and fashions come and go, Steve’s constant and steady voice, his entertaining and informative opinions and his local knowledge have given the Rocklanders a sense of contentment and a connection to Rockland’s past. “
Over the years, Possell has understood the importance of showing up. For many nights he slept at the station, in anticipation of a snowfall, so he could be on air the next morning. The most difficult moment in Possell’s life was after the death of this woman in February 2020.
“I had to go on the radio and be reasonably optimistic,” he said. “It was the most difficult time.”
But the community embraced Possell because he is and has been the voice we all know. He has been Rockland’s constant.
Looking back, the radio host says, “I’m glad I got a job. I have been recognized. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I supported my family. The rest is whipped cream.