Robert Marvin Cleveland… My mentor, My Old Silent Friend.

   I received an email from my old time friend and former co-worker Laura Mickler last evening.  Bob Cleveland passed away over the past weekend.

   Bob was my boss when I worked for Waterman Broadcasting in Fort Myers, FL from 1983-1996.  He was my mentor, my teacher, my friend.  No one had a stronger influence on my life than Bob. He set me on my path, he gave me my start in Broadcast Engineering, he taught me the value of doing things right the first time.  The year was 1983, I was young, just 26 years old, foolish, funny, just married and starting a family.  I was working as a Journeyman Electrician on Waterman’s new transmitter building when I met Bob.  Bob was a good talker, in a calm, quiet kind of way.  Very technical, very straight forward with an attempt at humor at times.  We started chatting one day and he seemed really impressed with my knowledge of electronics, mechanics and “the way things work” in general.  A week later Bob approached me and told me he just had an opening in his Engineering Department, would I like a job?   At the time I was working for $10 an hour, not bad for 1983 I guess, he said it would be a “lateral job advancement” which meant he was offering me $10 to move to his staff.  Well, after working for for 6 years as an electrician, in the hot Florida summers, digging trenches for conduits, working in 99 degree ceiling spaces in shopping malls, I decided this might be a better thing for me.

  Over the years, some of the best years of my life, I learned from Bob, just as I did from my own father, I had fun and I divorced my first wife.  The two of us made a great team, working on the Transmitter overnights, boy was that tiring work.  We kept WBBH TV on the air, along with the rest of the great TV-20 Engineering staff which included , Thaddeus Ozenkowski “Oz”, Rich Foley and Dave Kosh.  Later additions to the staff included Mark Statzer, Tom McKleroy and Mike Hildiego. I worked as Transmitter Supervisor for many years and then accepted the position as Engineering Supervisor.

  I left WBBH in the early spring of 1996 when my present wife Linda, an Air Traffic Controller at Page Field in Fort Myers was transferred to Clearwater-Saint Pete Airport.  I spent most of my remaining working career in or near broadcasting, with a brief stint with SONY in 1996.  I worked for Time Warner from 1997-2000 when I decided, at age 43, I needed to retire to stay home and raise our three young children.  Michael, now 17 is on his way to becoming a Professional Electrical & Mechanical Engineer.  Alex now 16, is going to finish high school, get some college in and then come help with the family Solar Electrical Business I now have.  Natalie, my youngest will sadly be “always our little girl”, she is our lovable Downs Syndrome Child, now 14.

   Bob “retired” from WBBH before I left, the year I can’t remember, along with many other things from the past, that’s what I get for accepting my 50th birthday this year.  I tryed a few times to get in touch with Bob but he was a private, removed person in his retirement.

  I will miss him.


4 Responses to “Robert Marvin Cleveland… My mentor, My Old Silent Friend.”

  1. Laura Mickler Says:

    I had the pleasure of working with Bob Cleveland. He hired me in Master Control in September of 1986. I had just moved back to Florida and I was a proud mother of a one year old son. He treated me very well. Always called me a little rascal. We had a lot of good times. Bob really cared about the company and he worked very hard to keep things running. My good friend Oz and I did keep up with Bob after he retired, sometimes just a phone call every year or so. He always knew that he was well liked and missed. Well I am still here at Waterman, 21 years now. I have been thru many Chief Engineers, but no one was quite like Bob. I will miss him!

  2. Scott Thomas Says:

    In my first tour at WBBH I got to meet Bob Cleveand and asked him about the equipment. It was so many years ago that I don’t remember what was said. I do remember how passionate he was about the technology. I wished I had more time to talk to him. I think I could have learned a lot. I do remember his “retirement” though. I’ve often wondered how different things would have been if he had still been there.

  3. Like Jim. Bob was one of the main mentors in life. I joined Waterman Broadcasting in 1983 at the age of 22. I was hired to help Bob build the new transmitter facility for WBBH. This was about a year before Jim joined the WBBH Engineering Team. Bob was such a large influence on my life, and I still carry many of his influences with me through my daily life. Bob was a tireless worker. He loved Broadcasting and Broadcasting was his life. I still think back of the times in which I beleive we single handedly kept Sonny’s on Fowler open for business. My days with Bob as my Boss and the friendships that were acquired during my short ternure at WBBH were surely some of my best. From the daily menu posting at “The Shack”, to the daily announcement that “Elvis has left the building”. Memories of fine folks like Wilbur, Keith Floyd, EJ, Stepenchek. And of course my co workers.. Our recently departed Dave Kosh, God rest his soul, and Ozzy, who to this day is still finding hand tools that I left in the wiring troughs at WBBH. Work at WBBH was more like fun, and I thank all of those that allowed me to continue to draw a pay check even though I somehow manuapulated the duties assigned to me to include being responsibe for nothing.

    May God Bless your soul Mr. Bob Cleveland.

    Graphics Outfitters

  4. Have you any idea how I might get n touch with “Oz”? I used to work with him on Long Island at WLIW and WSNL back in the 70’s until he split foe Florida

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