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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Radio's Mr. Fabulous, Bill Burton, Dies at 85

It's a sad day for the radio industry: Radio's number one ambassador has passed away at the age of 85. Bill Burton, who died this weekend as a result of head injuries suffered from a fall at home on Tuesday, will be missed by too many people to count and by an entire industry that appreciated him as its number one cheerleader. Bill Burton was everybody's friend. He was always positive. He was radio's biggest advocate. He was fabulous.

Radio Ink Publisher Eric Rhoads said, "Bill embraced me as a friend and gave me constant encouragement over decades. He?s been a great mentor, he taught us all vital lessons like 'Never take no from someone who cann't say yes,' and he was always positive in spite of numerous back surgeries and pain. He is probably responsible for more auto billing to radio than anyone in history. He is a radio legend, and there is a big hole in my heart over his loss."

Bill Burton started his radio career at the then-independent rep firm Eastman Radio and was President/Chairman when Jacor bought Eastman in 1987. He's headed the Detroit Radio Automotive Group since 1995, and consistently traveled the country giving "Why Radio?" presentations to top decisionmakers in the advertising community. Burton estimatee that, during his 30-year-plus career, he contributed to about $300 million in radio sales.

Burton was given the Radio Ink Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009

"For over 40 years, Bill Burton was my mentor and friend. He was never too busy to answer a question, offer advice or listen to a concern. He was one of the most positive influences on my career and leaves a legacy from which the industry can continue to benefit if we all take a page from his play book and 'Be fabulous'"

--Radio Ink General Manager Deborah Parenti

"For the whole of his career, Bill Burton has been radio's greatest promoter, rivaling the greatest promoters of all time: P.T. Barnum, Wild Bill Hickok, Don King, Muhammad Ali, Vince McMahon, Bill Veeck, Bill Graham, David Merrick, Norman Granz, and Walt Disney. In point of fact, Bill's fingerprints are on every automobile order you ever got out of Detroit -- going so far has to arrange for the University of Michigan band to strike up the band under the office window of a Motor City decision maker whom Bill had discovered was a U of M graduate. Top that, if you can."
-- Dave "Giff" Gifford

"There was nobody I was closer to in the business than Bill. He was always up, energeti,c and positive about life. He has carried lots of pain the last five years and never complained. He was always there and could not have been a better friend."
-- Bob Liggett

(12/23/2014 6:17:15 PM)
I really can't speak about Bill in an industry way, but I can certainly speak about him as one of the most wonderful men I have ever met! My father, Fritz Frederick, worked with Bill for years and developed a long and loving friendship with both Bill and his wife Carol. I grew up with Bill as an Uncle who supported and encouraged me and my my children. He will be missed more than I can say. I am so blessed to have had him my life. He will always be fabulous to me!

(12/23/2014 2:10:10 PM)
To me, Bill was more than just Radio's biggest ambassador. He was a trusted friend and mentor who helped shape who I am as a person and as an executive.

I will forever cherish those morning breakfasts at the Kingsley Inn and the numerous voicemails from Bill left on my phone in-between travels telling me I was 'fabulous' -- the highest compliment one can receive from a man who defined the word.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. You are already missed tremendously.

(12/23/2014 7:31:08 AM)
Bill was one of a kind. He was radio's quintessential ambassador. He was a true gentlemen that cared deeply about people. He was an inspiration to everyone he encountered. Bill was "fabulous" in every way. I will always be grateful for our friendship.
(12/22/2014 5:33:32 PM)
Bill Burton was one of the most remarkable, energetic, kind people I have ever met. For those who didn't know him, it's hard to describe how much he has meant to so many of us. His loss is the end of an era and for those who knew him, a very painful loss.
(12/22/2014 3:43:13 PM)
Bill, you were and always will be " Fabulous! " Bill Burton was among the icons of radio upon whose shoulders hundreds stood proudly. We will miss the energy of his optimism and the sincerity of his friendship. Thank you Bill for being an uncompromising "rock" in the foundation of the radio industry and for setting a standard for generations past, present and future. A heavy load for some but not for Bill Burton.

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