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'He cares about the city': How now-retired radio legend Charlie Brennan made a difference in St. Louis

"Really just through observing Charlie Brennan I've learned a lot about the business but also how to be a better advocate for St. Louis."

ST. LOUIS — If voices could be bottled, we'd uncork Charlie Brennan whenever we needed a friend.

His voice has been the soundtrack of our mornings for more than three decades on KMOX Radio.

"He's very important to what KMOX is all about," said his KMOX colleague Tom Ackerman. "But I think as important is what he means to St. Louis and how much he cares about the city."

But now Charlie Brennan is bubble-wrapping his mic. After nearly 34 years, he has retired, but before he left, longtime listeners flooded his email inbox.

"Honestly, I didn't know there were so many people out there who listened to the show. Had I known, I probably wouldn't be retiring," Brennan said with a laugh.

Before signing off, he sat down with 5 On Your Side's Mike Bush to talk about his decades-long career.

Credit: KSDK
Charlie Brennan has retired after nearly 34 years.

When you flip through the pages of his memory, you'll find someone who lived out a dream.

"I always wanted to be in radio at least since I was about 12 years old," said Brennan.

After a stint at a college station and then at a daytime station in Newton, Massachusetts, he was hired at KMOX in the summer of 1988 by their storied General Manager Robert Hyland.

"We met and he offered me a job and he said, 'We don't want you to come here for a cup of coffee'. And I said, 'I'll be happy to come here and stay awhile'. And, I think I got the coffee. I had the drinks, the main course, the appetizers, the dessert and the aperitif," joked Brennan.

After pulling every shift on the schedule, he started working mornings in May of 1990. And it fit like headphones into an audio jack.

"My dad always wanted me to become a program director because he said the guys on the air are getting fired all the time. I guess I just lucked out," he said.

But now his listeners aren't the only ones remembering the good before goodbye.

"You want to be around people who make you grow and Charlie Brennan is that kind of person," said KMOX's Carol Daniel.

"Always the most generous person with his time and his talent and just always very supportive," added KMOX's Debbie Monterrey.

"He's one of those personalities that has used his platform to make a huge difference in the city," noted KMOX Program Director Steve Moore.

And that is perhaps Charlie Brennan's most important contribution. He didn't just make us smarter, he made a difference.

Like raising money for plaques, detailing points of interest in downtown St. Louis.

"The Dred Scott plaque is still up," he said proudly. "And before we put that plaque up, there was no plaque outside the old courthouse."

Credit: KSDK
Charlie Brennan helped raise money for plaques, detailing points of interest in downtown St. Louis.

He also helped build a statue of Chuck Berry, the father of Rock and Roll, in the Delmar Loop.

And he helped with this year's Great St. Louis Clean-Up. He led the charge to clean up places like the Firefighter's Memorial.

Like all big cities, St. Louis comes with a lot of baggage. Every day, Charlie Brennan helped us unpack.

"Really just through observing Charlie Brennan I've learned a lot about the business but also how to be a better advocate for St. Louis," said Ackerman.

As for retirement, there will be travel with his wife Beth, and other than that, it's an open line.

"So I'm gonna try and learn new things," said Brennan. "I don't know exactly what those new things will be, but that's one of the goals."

A good companion smooths our rough roads and Charlie Brennan made our commutes a little less bumpy.

And if they were to etch a plaque about his career, he said it would be short work for the engraver.

"So it sounds kind of mushy, but if the epitaph were he cared or he cares, I would take that," he said.

Perhaps now that he's not on the radio, Charlie Brennan can be our inner voice.

Do you know someone Making A Difference? Let Mike know by filling out the form below, or emailing Mike at mbush@ksdk.com.

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