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Bruce Reese, radio ‘pioneer’ and former leader of WTOP’s parent company, dies

Bruce Reese, Jim Farley, and Joel Oxley. (Courtesy Shannon Finney Photography)

Bruce Reese, the former CEO of WTOP’s parent company, Hubbard Radio, died on April 4. He was 70 years old.

Reese was at the helm of WTOP’s former owner, Bonneville International, when the station was purchased by Hubbard Radio in early 2011 in a deal that included 16 other radio stations. Reese took on the same role at Hubbard Radio after the acquisition.

Upon hearing the news, Joel Oxley, the senior vice president and general manager of Hubbard DC/WTOP, said, “I find myself overcome with sadness. … Bruce will be so missed.”

Oxley said Reese “was not only a pioneer in our business, but also a wonderful grandfather, father, husband and son.”

Oxley noted that Reese, in his 20 years working with WTOP through his roles with both Hubbard and Bonneville, “had the foresight to invest in our websites in a big way when others weren’t. And probably, most impactful, he supported WTOP going to FM back in 2006, which was a move that was way ahead of its time. His family is in all of our thoughts and prayers.”

Reese worked and lived for much of his career near Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a graduate of Brigham Young University.

He served as president of Bonneville International from 1996 to 2010, and maintained his role after Hubbard Broadcasting’s acquisition of WTOP. He continued serving in that capacity until July 2014, when he became a special adviser to Hubbard Radio.

Reese began his career as a lawyer with the Department of Justice in D.C. before working with firms in the District and Denver, Colorado. Reese was the chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Board and the organization’s joint board of directors. He received NAB’s National Radio Award in 2008.

“NAB and the entire broadcast industry is saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and former Bonneville president Bruce Reese,” said Gordon Smith, the organization’s president and CEO. “Bruce’s accomplishments in broadcasting were surpassed only by his commitment to charity and community service. Broadcasting is a better business and the world was a better place because of my friend Bruce Reese.”

When Reese took on a reduced role with Hubbard in 2014, he took time to celebrate the two organizations he helped lead for over two decades. “I’ve had the opportunity to run two great radio companies,” he said at the time. “After Bonneville was brought into Hubbard Radio, we all worked to preserve the values and spirit of both organizations while creating one corporate identity and culture.”

“I was lucky enough to work with him and get to meet his family,” WTOP’s Oxley said. “Bruce was an extremely smart, passionate person. WTOP wouldn’t be where it is without Bruce Reese.”

Reese is survived by his wife Lu Anne, seven children, four daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law and 12 grandchildren.

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