Robert graduated from Osceola High School in Kissimmee in 1964 and joined the Navy the following year. Upon discharge from the Navy in 1969, he worked for the Florida East Coast Railway as a radio communications tech, maintaining all their equipment between Jacksonville and Miami. Then, in 1971, he began a 19-year career with AT&T at its microwave communications facility in Polk City.
His entry into the radio field is an interesting story, one that began in 1976. Although his full time job at the time was with AT&T, he was searching for something to do part-time. And since he already had a First Class FCC license, he decided to stop by WONN and see if they needed any help. There, he met station manager Steve Marks who hired the recent Polk Community College grad on the spot to work two or three mornings a week as an assistant to chief engineer Bob Haley.
Not long afterwards, however, Haley left and Robert found himself designated chief engineer. In 1981, WONN was bought by Hall Communications, which expressed a need for a full time engineer, rather than a part time one. Robert didn’t want to cut ties with AT&T, so his brief radio career came to an end.
As AT&T began closing down their analog offices across the country in the conversion to a digital fiber optic network in the late 80's and early 90's, he was offered a transfer to Jacksonville since Polk City was one of the sites closing down. Instead, he opted to leave the company and remain in Lakeland. Six months later he went to work for Lakeland Electric in their telecommunications department.
Today (2010), Robert is retired from both Lakeland Electric and AT&T, but continues to live in the Lakeland area where he devotes his time to running a small cattle ranch and hay cutting business. While his radio career may have been a short one (1976-1981), it brought to him a unique experience that he remembers fondly to this day, along with pleasant memories of the people he worked with.
1976 - 1981 WONN (Engineering)