Thursday, November 04, 2004

In Loving Memory:
Walter L. "Salty" Brine
"No School Foster-Glocester"
the following is from the November 3 edition of the Providence Journal Bulletin

Farewell to Salty Brine, voice of Rhode Island for 50 years
With his children's television show and his morning radio program, he was a lifelong companion for many in the state.
02:02 AM EST on Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Walter L. "Salty" Brine, 86, a Rhode Island icon and veteran broadcaster, died yesterday at his Narragansett home.

Brine's career spanned generations and his voice, skipper's hat and one-liners became part of the fabric of the state. He woke up with Rhode Islanders, entertained their children after school, and coined the phrase that parents tucked their children to bed with: "Brush your teeth and say your prayers."

Brine's career at WPRO-AM began in 1942 with the station's morning radio program, which he hosted until his retirement in 1993. Brine also created a children's television show, called Salty Brine's Shack, that he hosted on Channel 12 from 1958 to 1968.

"A rare broadcaster," said Ron St. Pierre, who has Brine's old job at WPRO. "With Salty, you always had the sense of a one-on-one connection. You never had the sense that he was talking to a group of people; he was talking to you."

Before St. Pierre became morning radio host, he was program director and general manager at the station. St. Pierre also worked with Brine.

"I saw him three weeks ago, and I told him, 'Salty, I'm just keeping the chair warm for you'," he said.

John Martin, who covered broadcasting for The Providence Journal from 1987 to 1999, called Brine's ratings "powerhouse."

"I think for most of the 50 years he was on the air, the station was successful because of Salty Brine's day-part," Martin said. "He had listeners who grew up with him, and then their kids grew up with him. He had a longevity that's almost unique in the business."
Brine was a consummate performer, Martin said.

"He had an unmistakable charisma. An endearing cheerfulness. A robust laugh. A welcoming smile," Martin said. "He could light up a room. When you met Salty, you always felt like you were meeting that Salty Brine, the guy who was on the radio."

Like so many things that Rhode Islanders come to love, he was one of a kind.
"And we embrace that," Martin said.

Walter Cryan, who started his career in 1965, reading the news on Brine's WPRO show, ended his own newscast last night with Brine's signature: "Brush your teeth and say your prayers."
Cryan now anchors the 6 p.m. news on Channel 6. He also worked with Brine at Channel 12, when Salty Brine's Shack was on the air.

"He had a perpetual smile, not only on his face but in his voice," Cryan said. "I think he was made for broadcasting."

Brine's only son, Walter L. Brine Jr., cohosts The Loren & Wally Morning Show, at WROR in Boston.

Salty Brine's first wife, Marion "Mickey" Brine, died in 2000. Brine remarried and is survived by Roseanna Brine.

Like Del's Lemonade and the Independent Man at the State House, Brine was part of Rhode Island's landscape.

State officials took it one step further, in 1990, and made him part of the Ocean State's geography: The beach in the Galilee section of Narragansett was renamed Salty Brine State Beach.

Brine filmed commercials there with the Cardi brothers, the owners of Cardi's furniture, for whom he worked after his retirement from morning broadcasting. Brine's talent for catchy phrases paid off for the Cardis, too. When he was recording a radio commercial for the furniture store, he had a few too many seconds to fill at the end of the 60-second spot. So Brine, always the professional, stretched the last line of the ad, said Peter Cardi, improvising yet another trademark saying: "No-ho-ho-body beats Cardi's."

During his final broadcast as host of WPRO's radio show, on April 28, 1993, many of his competitors interrupted their own shows to call Brine and wish him luck. Brine, then 74, said farewell to his audience.

"To all of you folks listening, this is my state," he said. "I love everybody in it from the time they're born through the time they get through school and college. I think I've lived through four generations."

He ended that last broadcast with his most famous line, "No school Foster-Glocester!"

The voice of school closings on snow days. The familar voice on the radio who was good with a joke, classy and clean. Long before shock jocks and trashy morning shows. He lasted 50 years without changing, he was himself. The consumate professional, the teacher of children when tv was in it's infancy, before Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, before PBS, Rhode Island children had "Salty's Shack." I never met the man personally, though I know there were numerous times I was within 10 feet of him. He was class, he was a humble man, and he was the voice of my youth coming over the radio. God Bless you Salty, see you soon. And I'll remember to brush my teeth and say my prayers in the meantime.

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