Bob Collins was born Harold Wallace Lee, but everybody called him Buddy. His radio career began at the young age of 13 at Lakeland’s WONN. A year later, he got his own show. While still in high school, the young deejay also worked at WYSE, a small daytimer on the second floor of a downtown retail store.
After graduating from Lakeland High School in 1960, he took a job with WPLA in nearby Plant City, his first stop on a planned journey to work his way through college as a disc jockey. From there, he landed at WKGN in Knoxville (TN). In 1963, he was back in Lakeland, working full-time at Cypress Gardens as a ski show announcer and part-time at WWAB (the former WYSE) using his new moniker – “Bob Collins” – the name that would stay with him for the rest of his career.
By 1965, Bob was at WGTO, the 50,000-watt AM just outside the main entrance to Cypress Gardens. Later that year, he was doing mornings at WINQ in Tampa, then WALT, the market’s top rocker, in 1966. After a brief stopover at WLCY in 1967, he moved to Milwaukee’s WOKY. Two years later, he was at KFI in Los Angeles, and a year after that, San Diego at KCBQ. He returned to Milwaukee to work at WRIT in 1971, and then it was back to Florida to PD WMYQ in Miami.
A 32-year old Collins joined Chicago’s WGN to do weekday afternoons and Saturday nights in 1974. When legendary morning man Wally Phillips announced his retirement in 1986, management moved the loud, opinionated and smart-alecky “Uncle Bobby” to mornings, where he eventually dominated the ARBs, maintaining a #1 ranking in both afternoon and morning drive. Billboard magazine named him “Personality of the Year” in 1984 and, in 1987, a local poll chose him as Chicago’s “Favorite Morning Radio Personality.”
An avid pilot, Bob’s career was cut short when he and two others perished in a mid-air plane collision over downtown Zion, Illinois on February 8, 2000. He was 58. The former high school band drummer attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland and the University of Florida, where he studied journalism.
1956 - 1957 WONN (On Air Personality)