MORGANTOWN — Sometimes you had to listen closely when Bob Elliott was on Morgantown radio back in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Not because he was soft-spoken, no sir. The guy had a big, rumbling baritone (except when he would dissolve into laughter on the air and the guffaws would go up an octave).
It’s because Elliott, 70, who died last week in Kentucky after battling cancer, often employed sonic subtleties during his time behind the microphone at WCLG and at the former WMQC, in Westover.
Such as playing the oh-so-organic sounds of human flatulence — at oh-so-low volume — under Elvis Presley’s dramatic recitation in “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” for example.
Or, the maniacal giggling sound effect he would hit during the chorus of Neil Sedaka’s soft-rock juggernaut, “Laughter in the Rain.”
If it was a doo-wop song (that genre being his first musical love) you just might — again, if you cocked your ear — catch him singing along, off-mike.
There were those Elliott-isms, also: “Oh, Buddy!” “What are YOU lookin’ at?” “Hit it!”
And his patented, “Uhhhhhhhh …”
Services, such as they are, will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Smith Funeral & Cremation Care in Westover, for Elliott, a University City native who was born George Dale Cumpston Jr., on July 3, 1948.
That “such as they are,” caveat, his longtime friend and radio partner Larry Nelson said, is because Elliott didn’t necessarily want a formal proceeding to mark his passing.
However, said Nelson, who did morning shows with Elliott at WCLG and WMQC, he didn’t say anything about people getting together — to share some stories and laughs in remembrance of the radio guy who’s heart was as big as his voice.
“Bob was a good guy,” Nelson said Monday.
“He was a good friend. He was good on the air. And he made me laugh. He was just naturally funny.”
The two first lined up on the air at WCLG-AM, some 40 years ago.
Nelson, the son of 1950s television entertainer Jimmy Nelson, was by then a decade into his career in Morgantown, after first breaking into radio in Kingwood after a stint in the U.S. Air Force.
And Elliott, who graduated from University High School in 1967 and scooted up to Connecticut for a time, was back in his hometown with a newly minted degree from, yes, the Columbia School of Broadcasting.
“That was back when the Columbia School of Broadcasting was a thing,” Nelson said.
“I used to tease him about that all the time. I used to say, ‘Geez, Bob, you didn’t have to do any work. All you had to do was say your name in the microphone and they handed you your diploma.’”
Radio chemistry ensued the first they time opened the microphone for their show, Nelson recalled.
Nelson, who grew up emulating Don Rickles and Jerry Lewis, was admittedly the more manic of the two.
In contrast, Elliott was the straight man who, as said, could still slay Nelson with a droll aside or quick adlib.
“He made me laugh,” Nelson said. “Every time. And it wasn’t like he was actually trying. He just naturally said funny things.”
“Oh, My Land, yes, that dry sense of humor,” said Linda Bowers, who co-owned WCLG with her husband, the late Garry Bowers.
The new hire and co-owner had a musical kinship. “I loved doo-wop just as much as he did. He was musical. A lot people didn’t know that. He played the drums and sang. He could really sing.”
And it was golden, she said, when Nelson broke the comedic wall to make Elliott cave on the air.
“You got him tickled,” she said, “and that was it.”
Don’t touch that dial
Comedy or no, Nelson said, Elliott was a natural on the air.
After Nelson left WCLG, Elliott stayed on for “The Nearly Famous Bob & Bob Show,” with fellow jock Bob Brown, who would found his own audio production company.
Nelson and Elliott reconnected at WMQC in the 1980s, where they billed themselves, “Two of America’s oldest disc jockeys.”
As Nelson said, “We just picked it right back up.”
In recent years, Elliott retired to the beach, then Kentucky, with his longtime female companion.
He is survived by her, his daughter, his mother and sister, two step-children (his “bonus” children, in Elliott-ese) and a whole brood of grandchildren.
There were classic cars, outings to the ocean and his beloved doo-wop on satellite radio.
All that, and his broadcast-family, too, Nelson said.
“Wednesday’s really going to be a celebration of his life,” said Nelson, who had long stayed in touch with his friend over the years.
The pair had a signature signoff for their WMQC show that just kind of happened one morning, Nelson recalled. They liked it, and kept it.
“I said, ‘Well, I must be off.’ And he said, ‘Yes, you certainly are.’ That was Bob.”
Email Jim Bissett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @DominionPostWV