Raymond Royal Marshall, a crucial cog on syndicated talk show host Neal Boortz’s radio team as a sidekick and engineer, has died.
Pete Spriggs, program director for AM750 and now 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB, said he collapsed at his Atlanta home and was pronounced dead at Grady Hospital at about 1 a.m. early Saturday morning.
Assistant Program Director Condace Pressley said it was too soon to pinpoint cause of death. He was 43.
“He was a good man,” she said. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Marshall worked with WSB Radio for 17 years, according to the WSB Radio biography for Marshall.
UPDATE (Monday, January 17, 2010 at 10 a.m.): WSB Radio said Marshall had a fatal heart attack Saturday. His funeral service will be held at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur Saturday at 11 a.m. It’s open to the public. WSB aired a tribute to Marshall Monday morning. Boortz announced the death of Marshall to his national syndicated network listeners at 10 a.m. Erick Erickson subbed in for Boortz today. Boortz said he will be back on air Tuesday morning live.
A St. Louis native and graduate of the University of Georgia in 1992, he got his start at WSB Radio as a board operator working overnights. Soon after, he joined Boortz as engineer and board operator.
In 1996, he started his own radio talk show called “The Royal Treatment,” which ran for several years, mostly at night.
After his show ended, he continued to work with Boortz, who is heard on hundreds of stations nationwide.
“There are no words available to express my personal sense of loss at the passing of Royal Marshall,” Boortz said in a statement released this morning. “It’s no stretch to say that I loved that man like he was my own brother. Royal had an unmatched sense of humor and a quick mind that made him a natural for radio, and his dedication to his colleagues and friends was only exceeded by his intense dedication to his family. Our program, WSB Radio and the entire Cox family has lost part of its very soul this day.”
“He was always upbeat, always in a good mood,” said Mark Arum, a traffic reporter for WSB Radio for 13 years. “He was always there with a quick line. We were always each other’s sounding board. He was always ready to lend a friendly and understanding ear.”
Rahul Bali, Marshall’s producer from 1998 to 2005, said he watched Marshall mature from happy-go-lucky bachelor to devoted father and community member. “He just grew up,” he said.
Marshall was a deacon at the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur and chair of the national advisory board at Forever Family, a non-profit organization which helps children who have parents who are incarcerated.
Marshall also dabbled in stand-up comedy at the Punchline for a few years. “He had an easy way with people and was very comfortable with the mike,” said Jamie Bendall, who owns the Punchline. “I thought he was a natural.”
WSB Radio announced the sad news at noon today. The station then held a moment of silence on air for Marshall before airing a special hour of Boortz’s show in honor of Marshall afterwards. If you’d like to sign the ajc.com guestbook, here is the link. You can read WSB Radio’s story here.
In that WSB Radio story, executive producer Belinda Skelton said: “For 15 years it’s been ‘Royal and Belinda. My other half is gone. I don’t know if I can sit and look at someone else on the other side of that glass.”
The station did tributes all afternoon. Arum and Clark Howard joined Adam Goldfein to take calls and reminisce.
Marshall is survived by his wife Annette and two daughters, two-year-old Ava and four-year-old Amira.
And here’s a photo of Marshall with his wife Annette from the Clark Howard roast from 2005, from Marshall’s MySpace page:
And WSB passed along this photo of him at a Fair Tax Rally:
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog