Bernie Strachota is being remembered for his contributions during his 19-year career in Milwaukee radio. The WBA Hall of Fame broadcaster died Sunday. He was 96.
Strachota started his career in 1959 at what was then WRIT AM/FM and worked there until 1978. In 1962, he turned WRIT-AM, Milwaukee’s top “Top 40 Hits” station, into one of the first fully-automated radio stations in the country. He was also one of the first broadcasters in the country to grasp the concept of niche programming in radio. He designed the first “For Women Only” format for his FM station, even changing its call letters to WFWO-FM.
When the Top 40 format waned as a viable force on AM radio, he became the first commercial radio broadcaster in Wisconsin to use an “All News” format, programming WRIT-AM for All News in 1972.
Strachota was also extremely active in Milwaukee community affairs and was one of the founders and initial board members of two of Milwaukee signature events: The internationally famous SummerFest and the Vince Lombardi Memorial Golf Classic which has raised millions of dollars of funding for cancer research.
He served two terms on the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Board of Directors and a term from 1976-77 as the Association’s President.
Strachota flew 48 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II and was married to his wife, Laverne, for 57 years.
Funeral services are scheduled for Dec. 7 at Calvary Lutheran Church, 1750 North Calhoun Road, Brookfield. Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The service begins at 1 p.m.