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HomeNewsArchivesFORMER RADIO PERSONALITY STAN SOLTOSKI DIES

FORMER RADIO PERSONALITY STAN SOLTOSKI DIES

Stan Soltoski's voice was the first many Virgin Islanders heard in the morning on the old WVWI in the 1970s and early '80s. As former associates on St. Thomas learned Wednesday, that voice was stilled June 19, when the longtime radio show host died in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Puerto Rico.
According to Christine O'Keefe, who for some of those years hosted the weekday "Conversation" talk show that followed Soltoski's 5 to 9 a.m. stint, serious problems with a spinal injury and other health complications forced him to leave the radio job and eventually to move permanently to Puerto Rico, where he was in and out of the VA Hospital and Annex.
On June 14, O'Keefe said, she telephoned to wish him a happy 64th birthday and was told that he was in intensive care at the hospital. Wednesday, when she called to inquire about his condition, she learned of his death.
"He was an institution," O'Keefe said. "He had a caustic sense of humor. Even with his medical problems, up until a few weeks ago, he would send the most hysterical, brilliant letters."
It was an assessment echoed by others who had worked with him at the station.
"You had to know Stan to understand his dry, witty sense of humor," colleague Dennis "Tex" Murphy said. He recalled that Soltoski and the first host of the "Conversation" show, Louise Noble, "had such a good rapport that they would chat for 15 minutes into her show."
Bill Kenny, another station staffer in those days, said he would routinely fill in as newscaster when Rick Ricardo was gone and could handle the job "because it was well-defined." But the time came, he said, when "I had to fill in for Stan when he went on vacation. The question was, how?" He remembers vividly to this day that listeners "would call in and say ‘Well, you're not Stan, but you're giving it your best shot.'"
"A lot of times he didn't feel well" but he never let his listeners know, Kenny said. He recalled that Soltoski needed to spend a lot of time in the sun because of a deficiency in his system and for years "would get off work at 9:15 or 9:30 a.m. and head right to the beach."
Lee Carle, who worked at WVWI from around 1974 to 1982 between stints at WSTA, said Soltoski ran the engineering board for the newscasts.
"He was one of those persons who could come up with a quip in any situation. He did great commercials, had a relaxed approach and a great command of the English language," Carle recalled. "He reminded me of a radio version of Dave Garroway. He was an intellectual but he still could speak for the common man. In the terms of those days, Stan was hip, he was plugged in, he knew what was happening."
Trent Lawrence, who took over the early show after Soltoski's departure, recalled that before he met the man, "I had listened to him for a long time, especially when he was with Louise [Noble]. I couldn't remember laughing so hard since ‘The Buster Brown Show' with Midnight the Cat and Froggy the Gremlin. He was a delight to work with. He had a perception that nothing worthwhile was worth taking seriously."
Noting that broadcasters often "don't look the way they sound," Lawrence said he was surprised upon meeting Soltoski for the first time to find that "he was a big man."
Soltoski left the station in 1983, the year after Lawrence came aboard, and "we missed him as soon as he walked out the door."
Soltoski's death came just months after the passing of another longtime WVWI personality, newscaster Carter Hague. "Carter was another comedian," Lawrence mused. "That was a funny place to work . . . I was watching a program on the old ‘M*A*S*H' series, and I kind of felt that way about WVWI. There was a wonderful dynamic about us, even though we were a terribly varied – or wonderfully varied – lot."
O'Keefe said she understood that cremation was planned and that Soltoski's ashes were to be placed in a military cemetery on the mainland. She said those interested in helping to plan a memorial service can contact her by e-mail at tcokeefe@att.net.

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Stan Soltoski's voice was the first many Virgin Islanders heard in the morning on the old WVWI in the 1970s and early '80s. As former associates on St. Thomas learned Wednesday, that voice was stilled June 19, when the longtime radio show host died in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Puerto Rico.
According to Christine O'Keefe, who for some of those years hosted the weekday "Conversation" talk show that followed Soltoski's 5 to 9 a.m. stint, serious problems with a spinal injury and other health complications forced him to leave the radio job and eventually to move permanently to Puerto Rico, where he was in and out of the VA Hospital and Annex.
On June 14, O'Keefe said, she telephoned to wish him a happy 64th birthday and was told that he was in intensive care at the hospital. Wednesday, when she called to inquire about his condition, she learned of his death.
"He was an institution," O'Keefe said. "He had a caustic sense of humor. Even with his medical problems, up until a few weeks ago, he would send the most hysterical, brilliant letters."
It was an assessment echoed by others who had worked with him at the station.
"You had to know Stan to understand his dry, witty sense of humor," colleague Dennis "Tex" Murphy said. He recalled that Soltoski and the first host of the "Conversation" show, Louise Noble, "had such a good rapport that they would chat for 15 minutes into her show."
Bill Kenny, another station staffer in those days, said he would routinely fill in as newscaster when Rick Ricardo was gone and could handle the job "because it was well-defined." But the time came, he said, when "I had to fill in for Stan when he went on vacation. The question was, how?" He remembers vividly to this day that listeners "would call in and say ‘Well, you're not Stan, but you're giving it your best shot.'"
"A lot of times he didn't feel well" but he never let his listeners know, Kenny said. He recalled that Soltoski needed to spend a lot of time in the sun because of a deficiency in his system and for years "would get off work at 9:15 or 9:30 a.m. and head right to the beach."
Lee Carle, who worked at WVWI from around 1974 to 1982 between stints at WSTA, said Soltoski ran the engineering board for the newscasts.
"He was one of those persons who could come up with a quip in any situation. He did great commercials, had a relaxed approach and a great command of the English language," Carle recalled. "He reminded me of a radio version of Dave Garroway. He was an intellectual but he still could speak for the common man. In the terms of those days, Stan was hip, he was plugged in, he knew what was happening."
Trent Lawrence, who took over the early show after Soltoski's departure, recalled that before he met the man, "I had listened to him for a long time, especially when he was with Louise [Noble]. I couldn't remember laughing so hard since ‘The Buster Brown Show' with Midnight the Cat and Froggy the Gremlin. He was a delight to work with. He had a perception that nothing worthwhile was worth taking seriously."
Noting that broadcasters often "don't look the way they sound," Lawrence said he was surprised upon meeting Soltoski for the first time to find that "he was a big man."
Soltoski left the station in 1983, the year after Lawrence came aboard, and "we missed him as soon as he walked out the door."
Soltoski's death came just months after the passing of another longtime WVWI personality, newscaster Carter Hague. "Carter was another comedian," Lawrence mused. "That was a funny place to work . . . I was watching a program on the old ‘M*A*S*H' series, and I kind of felt that way about WVWI. There was a wonderful dynamic about us, even though we were a terribly varied – or wonderfully varied – lot."
O'Keefe said she understood that cremation was planned and that Soltoski's ashes were to be placed in a military cemetery on the mainland. She said those interested in helping to plan a memorial service can contact her by e-mail at tcokeefe@att.net.