Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Charly Butcher Scholarship Fund

Scholarship to honor late WOWO broadcaster Charly Butcher

WOWO is offering scholarships to college students who are either communication majors or education majors as Charly Butcher was a supporter of both fields, and would routinely praise the work of local schools and educators.

Funding for the scholarships will be raised in a similar way to WOWO’s annual Penny Pitch charitable effort. The hope is that one day the Fund will be converted into a Foundation so Butcher’s legacy may live on for decades to come.

It was with a heavy heart that on August 15th, 2018 WOWO radio had to report that our very own Charly Butcher had died. The family man and Fort Wayne radio fixture passed away at the age of 61 due to a cardiac event.

Charly was the loving husband of elementary school teacher, Sarah Butcher, and the father of three fantastic kids. There were and still are, no words to express what the loss means to his family, friends, his co-workers, and all his listeners.

Charly started morning radio in Fort Wayne at 97.3 WMEE from January 1983 – November 1993. He was part of a duo with Tony Richards called: “Those Two Guys.” He then transitioned to doing middays on WOWO, but in the mid 90’s returned back to WMEE to do mornings again. In 2000, he moved to afternoon drive on 97.3 until he went back to WOWO permanently to host Fort Wayne’s Morning News in 2004 and he had been there ever since.

Sometimes when you work in local media like Charly did, you don’t realize the impact you’re having on people’s lives. For example, THOUSANDS shared WOWO’s original Facebook posting and the article on WOWO.com crashed our website more than once as so many people were trying to figure out what happened. A hashtag #RememberCharly was also started on Facebook and Twitter and it continues to be used today.

I could go on and on with stories about Charly; about his public service, about his commitment to his craft, about his storytelling and about his endless passion during his 30+ years in radio, but instead, I’ve decided to share the words of others to tell the story of Charly Butcher.

Indiana Congressman Todd Rokita released the following statement:

“Tonight, my friends in northeast Indiana made me aware of the unfortunate news that my friend, revered WOWO broadcaster Charly Butcher, passed away. It has been an honor and a privilege to accompany Charly on his ‘Morning News’ segment over the years. Charly is a beacon of truth and courage to all that have known him and has always put the interests of his listeners and community first. Your legacy lives on, my friend.”

Congressman Jim Banks echoed the comments of Congressman Rokita:

“Charly Butcher was a broadcasting icon and a beloved northeast Indiana legend. I am heartbroken about his passing and I will forever cherish the moments I spent with Charly, both on-and-off-air. Our entire region mourns his loss, but his irreplaceable voice and legacy will live on for generations to come. I offer my deepest condolences to Charly’s wife Sarah and his three children, his extended family and his colleges at WOWO.”

 On September 4th, 2018 Congressman Banks also spoke on the House Floor (click here for video) to honor the life and legacy of Charly.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly reached out: “Its sad news that WOWO’s Charly Butcher has passed away. I enjoyed talking with him over the years and he will be missed. I am thinking of Charly’s family, friends and Colleagues.”  – Joe

The comments not only kept coming by way of public statements, emails and social posts, but also by way of live calls over the air.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb called to reminisce about his time with Charly (click here for audio) and posted the following tweet: “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of @WOWOCharly. We talked on the radio just last week. @FLJanetHolcomb & I want to offer prayers & condolences to Charly’s family, friends and the WOWO community. A huge loss for northeast Indiana.”

The following call came into the Pat Miller Program from the Vice President of the United States of America, Mike Pence. (Click here to listen to audio.)

The Vice President also issued the following public statement: “Karen and I were deeply saddened to learn of passing of a friend and Indiana radio institution, Charly Butcher. Charly was a friendly voice in the morning for more than 30 years, with a deep commitment to his family and the listening audience. Charly Butcher was a great broadcaster and even better person and he will be missed. We send our prayers and condolences to Sarah, their children, their friends and every Hoosier who will miss a truly good man. God bless Charly Butcher.”  – Vice President Mike Pence

Countless condolences poured in and to this day the condolences keep coming, but in closing, I would like to share some words from nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck. On August 16th, 2018, just one day after Charly’s passing, Glenn Beck opened his program honoring our local legend. (Click here for audio.) 

“I would like to use Charly as an example of who I would like to be.  Charly made such an impression on me… Each time I met him, he was so different and so genuine. He was just a decent guy and, in an industry, where they are so few decent people, he stood out… There is something in the water in Indiana.”

When it comes to the impact that the late Charly Butcher had on his family, his friends, his co-workers, and his listeners across the airwaves, I don’t know what else there is to say, other than the words of Glenn Beck: “I would like to use Charly as an example, of who I would like to be.”

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