Obituary: Jack Moore was brave in war, bold on the airwaves

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 1, 2013 - 8:42 PM

Jack Moore was a gregarious FM stereo radio pioneer who started the "smooth jazz" radio format in Minnesota on KTWN-FM in the late 1970s.

He also was a decorated Army bombardier in World War II, a golf fanatic and a proud Irish Catholic whose wife and 11 kids were a major part of his life.

Moore died of colon cancer Dec. 19 in New Brighton. The former Minneapolis resident was 89.

"Jack was a pioneer in our industry. He had the first FM stereo station in the Twin Cities," said Steve Woodbury, outgoing chairman of the Minnesota Broadcasting Association. Moore was an independent owner known for starting FM radio stations, Woodbury said.

Moore, who was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcasters Hall of Fame in October 2004, is credited with creating "smooth jazz," a format Radio & Records magazine called "the first pop jazz station ever launched." Similar programing is now heard on Cities 97.

The son of a lawyer, Moore grew up in Minneapolis and was an all-city hockey goalie at Edison High School in 1939, said his son Terry Moore. He attended the University of Minnesota a year before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943.

As a bombardier, Moore worked in the plexiglass nose cone of B-24s, dropping bombs on targets in the South Pacific during World War II. He was awarded a Purple Heart after enemy fire shattered the nose glass, injuring his eye, his son said.

After the war, Moore played guitar with the Men of Note, a Minneapolis big band, for a few years before being hired by WPBC-AM as a salesman in 1950. He handled about every job the station had in the next decade before leaving to become a partner in the fledgling WAYL-FM in Minneapolis.

That's where Bill Kling, then a 1960s college student, met Moore in WAYL's Minnehaha Avenue studio.

"He had one sponsor, IGA supermarkets, which played his station in their stores," recalled Kling, the retired president and a founder of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Radio. "It was his pioneering effort. He managed to keep it alive pretty much through sheer force of personality. He sold ads, he recorded ads, he played records. ... Jack was such a strong influence on me. He is one of my heroes."

Moore taught Kling to follow your instincts, "and if you think you are right, stay with it and [FM listeners] will come," he said. "The second piece is he did it with grace and generosity."

For example, when Kling was looking for a radio tower so MPR could start broadcasting in the Twin Cities, every radio station he asked turned him down. Not Moore, who had acquired a tower in New Brighton and let MPR add an antenna.

"Jack said, 'Fine, put it up. By the way, that tree over there looks like it might fall on the tower. You might want to cut it down.' We did," Kling said.

Moore launched four more FM radio stations, and in 1987 created the market's first satellite-delivered channel, the Breeze Radio Network, building it into a national system with more than 50 affiliates. Moore was a former president of the Minnesota Golf Association, and in 1992 received its Ron Self Award for outstanding contributions.

In addition to his son Terry, Moore is survived by his wife of 57 years, Emily; three other sons, Rob, Brian and Chris; six daughters, Mary Moore, Linda Healy, Penny Moore, Mickey Moore, Sharon Hernandez and Julie Desmond; a brother, William Moore; a sister, Pat Scattarella; 31 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. One son, Jay, and a grandson, Matthew, preceded him in death.

Services have been held.

Jim Adams • 952-746-3283

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