The loss of an icon

Marshall Miles was many things to many people in our community. His name alone conjures so much meaning. There is no question that his death on Saturday, June 24, at age 70,  marked the end of an era when all of us in the Northwest Corner were lucky to have a “perfect local newscaster” with an unparalleled understanding of life in our towns.

Marshall co-founded Robin Hood Radio, which was first launched in 2006 as an internet radio station and by 2008 had affiliated with NPR and was broadcasting on AM1020 and 91.9FM “the smallest NPR station in the nation.” The Robin Hood Radio Network was built in the ensuing years, on air, streaming and on demand at robinhoodradio.com.

Even as a boy, Marshall and his older brother Mark used to sit with their grandparents as they tuned into Bob Steele on WTIC in Hartford. Steele was a legendary radio host, who reigned over the airwaves for more than 60 years and who was known for his folksy commentary. As Marshall made his own way into radio, starting as a senior at at Housatonic Valley Regional High School broadcasting football games, it became clear that he was a natural. Marshall cared about the community and he was involved. The icing on the cake was that he possessed a sense of humor.

As his days were coming to an obvious end, Mark asked Marshall what will the community do if you aren’t here to promote the charities and organizations and businesses that are the glue for the community? Who will talk about the weather? Who will cover the news with the Marshall touch? Not to mention that we’ll all be heartbroken without a Marshall Miles on the dial.

“Half the town might be sad,” Marshall told his brother, “and the other half might jump for joy.”

His partner at the station and co-founder Jill Goodman remembered how much the station meant to him. “Robin Hood Radio is the culmination of Marshall’s years in radio,” she said. “It is a balance of information and entertainment that serves the people who work and live here, and it’s something of which he was quite proud, for good reason.”  She went on to say. “Everybody knew Marshall.  And everybody has a Marshall story.”

Marshall stood as a repository of the culture of the Northwest Corner. When we consider the current crisis facing community news, with sources of reliable and authoritative journalism falling by the wayside at an alarming pace, leaving an estimated 70 million Americans living in what has become to be known as ‘news deserts,’  it becomes profoundly clear how important Marshall was to our community.

As Janet Manko, former publisher and editor-in-chief of this newspaper writes in a remembrance on page A5, Marshall “was an icon in regional media, and worked hard at multiple stations over many years to have local radio be the best it could be here.

“Who can forget the many times he stayed on the air through bad storms and power outages, keeping us connected? He gave his all through some very challenging times, right up until the end of his life.”

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