PITTSFIELD >> Local radio lost another veteran Berkshire voice on Friday when Rick Beltaire signed off at WBRK-AM (1340) for the last time.
Beltaire, who had been involved with Berkshire radio stations on and off for 42 years, has officially retired.
He had served music, news and information with a dash of quirky humor to Berkshire radio listeners at both WBEC and WBRK since 1974.
Beltaire began his Berkshire broadcasting career at WBEC 42 years ago after graduating from Williams College. He had the highest-rated morning show in the Berkshires for many years during the early 1980s, according to Eagle files.
Beltaire, who grew up in Cleveland as a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, joined WBRK in 1984 as a member of the ownership group that purchased the station. Beltaire became WBRK's vice president of programming, which allowed him to continue his popular morning show on WBRK into this year.
He could not be reached for comment on Friday.
"It is easy to throw the word great around, but in Rick's case it's an accurate statement," said WBRK's President Willard "Chip" Hodgkins III, "He's truly been an icon of Berkshire County radio and an iron man as well."
"His 30 plus years in the morning drive slot keeping us all informed and entertained is an incredible accomplishment," said Hodgkins, whose father, Willard H. "Huck" Hodgkins, headed the ownership group that bought WBRK for $625,000 in 1984.
After spending three years at WBEC in the mid-1970s, Beltaire left the Berkshires in 1977 for a job at WCOD-FM in Hyannis, then he toured the country gathering information for a trivia quiz book that he wrote. But Beltaire missed this area, and returned to Pittsfield in 1980, where he replaced longtime local radio personality Bob Cudmore as the host of WBEC's morning show.
WBRK has been on the air since 1938 and is Berkshire County's only remaining locally owned and operated radio station. Beltaire's retirement won't affect the station's mission, Hodgkins said.
"While Rick will be missed by all of us here, WBRK will remained focused on our ongoing commitment to local news, information and the community in the morning and throughout the day," he said.
Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.