Radio legend Gambling '51 dies at 74

by Lindsay Barnes | 1/13/04 6:00am

New York radio institution John A. Gambling '51 died Jan. 8, of a heart attack in Bon Secours Hospital in Venice, Fla. He was 73 years old.

Gambling was best known in New York for his "Rambling with Gambling" program, as millions would tune in every morning to hear his resonant baritone and down-to-earth delivery -- a soft, reassuring voice in the increasingly-noisy world of radio. Covering everything from news, to sports, to traffic, to school closings, New Yorkers woke up to the sound of Gambling's voice for 31 years from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. He retired in 1990 when his son John R. Gambling took over the microphone.

The Gambling family has been a mainstay on New York's radio dial for 75 years. Gambling's father John B. Gambling began broadcasting on WOR-AM in 1925 with John A. taking over in 1959. In 1985, John R. came on board as co-host.

During his 31 years on the air, a few innovations were introduced to the program like the movie reviews and the first-ever helicopter traffic reports.

But the reason Gambling's listeners were so loyal was the show's steady consistency. Perhaps this is because of the genuine nature of its host.

In a recent interview, his sportscaster Don Criqui said, "What you hear on the air is what he is off the air."

Television took note of Gambling's success in the 60s and 70s, as much of morning television was modeled after "Rambling with Gambling."

According to WOR Vice President Bob Bruno, "Television said, 'Hey, look, we can put a camera on this.'"

During his tenure in Hanover, he spent much of his time at the radio station, graduating with a degree in drama.

In addition to John A., Gambling is survived by his wife Sally, his two daughters Ann and Sarah and seven grandchildren.