Chuck Foster, who for nearly 50 years was a stalwart of radio and television airwaves in Maine, died Tuesday after a lengthy hospitalization at Eastern Maine Medical Center. He was 64.
The cause was complications from injuries because of a fall suffered at his Bangor home earlier in the summer.
According to his many media colleagues over the past decades, while Foster was known as a loyal friend and hard worker who loved being on air, there was one thing that set him above the rest of the fray.
“It was just that voice,” Bobby Russell, longtime general manager of Zone Radio in Bangor and co-host of The Morning Show on WKIT, said. “He had major market talent. He always kept up on whatever was popular in music, whether it was Madonna or Britney Spears or Drake. And he sounded great on air presenting it.”
Stephen King, owner of Zone Radio, was a friend of Foster’s for more than 40 years, starting when King was teaching English at the University of Maine. King paid tribute to his friend by mentioning him in “It,” as a local DJ called to fill in for Richie Tozier when he comes back to Derry to battle Pennywise as an adult.
“He had the perfect DJ voice, mellow and cheerful,” King said. “When he played dances, he always brought the fun. He’s a loss to the community of Bangor and to the tighter circle that is the broadcasting community in eastern Maine.”
Born David Turke — Russell said almost no one called him David and almost everyone called him Chuck — Foster grew up in the Augusta area. His mother was a country music singer and later a country music radio DJ, and his father was a ham radio enthusiast. Foster got his first job in radio in the early 1970s at WABK, then a Top 40 station broadcasting out of Gardiner. He later moved on to what was then the Bangor-based Top 40 station WGUY, where he was a newsreader and DJ for 13 years.
Longtime DJ “Mighty” John Marshall worked closely with Foster during that era.
“He was truly underpaid for his true worth,” Marshall, now a record appraiser and seller based in Portland, said. “He always had lots of great ideas for commercials and promotions, and he truly had a million dollar voice. And really, he was just such a nice guy. Nobody disliked him.”
While WGUY, known as Y101, broadcast out of downtown Bangor, Foster rented a studio up above where The Grindhouse is now. Russell said Foster took great effort to hide the fact that he was living in his recording studio, which he wasn’t supposed to do.
“I’d get off my shift at midnight and walk down the street and yell up to Chuck. He’d open up the windows and drop the keys down to the sidewalk to let me in,” Russell said. “We’d go up and mess around and make commercials and just have fun until the sun came up.”
In the 1980s, Foster branched out from radio to host “All Hit Videos,” a music video TV show that ran for more than a decade throughout Maine, and was later syndicated elsewhere in the country. It eventually expanded to broadcast on two nights, and after it went off-air, Foster hosted a web version for a number of years.
In 1996, Foster started WBZN, with business partner Mike Elliott. Now known as Z107.3, it was purchased in 1998 by Cumulus Media, which then sold it in 2012 to current owners Townsquare Media. Foster most recently hosted the afternoon broadcast on Z107.3.
“Chuck may have been a coworker, but he was a brother to all of us. We enjoyed hearing his professionalism on air and conversing with him in the halls,” Fred Miller, operations manager at Townsquare Media, said in a post on Z107.3’s website. “He’s somebody we definitely respected and he’s a true radio legend. He will be sadly missed.”
Foster was also known in Maine and beyond as a DJ for chem-free dances and receptions for teens at high schools and YMCAs. He for a time ran a chem-free club called Jammerz in downtown Bangor in the 1980s.
Beyond radio, Foster was well-known as a lover of animals, taking in countless dogs and cats over the years at his Bangor home. According to a statement released by Z107.3, Foster also became an unofficial foster father to a number of troubled young people over the years, taking in kids experiencing abusive situations or having trouble with addiction and helping them to get their lives on track.
Per Foster’s request, there will be no funeral, though people are encouraged to donate in his name to the Bangor Humane Society.
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