The late Sam Liguori (Photo: Citizen's Voice)
On April 16th of 1978, Ward's station and staff was featured in an edition of the Sunday Dispatch. Sam Liguori is in front...standing l to r is Jim, Bobby Gunther Walsh, Cliff Eshbach and Marge Stefaniak...who later went as Marge Stevens on WILK.I first became aware of Sam Liguori when he did the news as a young man on WPTS Radio. It was the old 1540 frequency owned by the Fiorani family. Sam later had a show on what was the hybrid oldies station that also had polka programming at 4pm.
Sam later moved to WBAX Radio where he started a lifelong career friendship with Jim Ward. Sam was there at WBAX during the Merv Griffin years and served as Ward’s right hand man as the station with through various formats. He is best known as the last guy out of WBAX Radio, then located in a brand new facility on Route 11 in Edwardsville as the flood waters of June 1972 came over the banks.
After the flood, Sam was the pivotal mid day jock as the station had its Golden Oldies format that was really rocking the Valley. When Jim Ward started his own station, WARD (the old WPTS) Sam went back to the facility on Foote Avenue in Duryea where he got his start. At the time, I was doing a rock and roll/media column and talked to Ward about his new staff and venture. Ward said, “Oh Sam’s going with me, I couldn’t do it without him. He’s my right hand man, my Ed McMahon, I trust him completely. He is the most competent broadcaster I know”. Liguori was with Ward during middle of the road music and request hit line formats, the fabled “Coping Connection" and those omnipresent polka weekends. Before and after Ward’s death (when radio station WARD morphed into WKQV AM and FM) Sam was a mainstay on the Home Shopper Club which was way before its time. Sam and Jeff Gordon sold goods on the air and were wildly entertaining. Sam would tell listeners that he had to check that big WARD shopper’s computer to see if there was inventory all the while thumbing through index cards with the merchandise scrawled on them. There was a computer but it was in the front office.
Sam hosted a Polka show Saturdays on WARM and then later a Saturday Night Country Classics Hall of Fame show on the country format station called Cat Country and then NASH. Sam was a lifelong resident of the area except for a sojourn to New Mexico.
When I heard that Sam had died, my mind went back to many moments I shared with him as a listener and then as a co-worker. But one thing stuck in my mind. The night Jim Ward died, Sam had a recorded on air eulogy on WARD. I was filling in during the night shift for Bobby Hafner at the time. He said about WARD with that booming friendly voice coming out of those broadcast speakers, “You are now in the arms of the Lord my friend, you will be missed. I’ll be thinking of you every day buddy, until we meet again”.
The day Sam died I bet they did meet again and I’m sure it was spectacular.