TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

Eugene Constantino D'Angelo Jr

July 31, 1928 - November 19, 2018

Eugene C. "Gene" D'Angelo Jr., a Linden-McKinley High School graduate and accomplished musician who rose from an ad salesman to become the longtime head of a Columbus broadcasting dynasty, died Monday. He was 90.

D'Angelo, the son of Italian immigrants who had moved to Ohio, served as chairman and president of WBNS-TV from 1972 to 1993. He was known to play his trombone or stand-up bass in his office at the TV station, where everyone called him "Gene" and he called everyone "babe."

"Hey babe, I got an idea babe," said WBNS sports anchor Dom Tiberi, who D'Angelo hired as an intern in 1981, imitating D'Angelo. "Everyone was babe."

Born and raised in Columbus, he wrote the Linden-McKinley High School fight song before leaving town to travel with various big bands in the mid-1940s, said his son, Tony D'Angelo, general manager of television stations WSYX (Channel 6) and WTTE (Channel 28) in Columbus.

He was a pioneer in broadcasting, innovating with computerized newsrooms and weather graphics and live helicopter broadcasts, but D'Angelo will probably be best remembered for his music, touring with Louis Prima and Claude Thornhill, as well as performing for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Band.

"Some guys go out and play golf, but I go home and play a few notes on my horn," D'Angelo told The Dispatch in 1993.

"He was very involved in music here," Tony D'Angelo said. "There was always music in our house," noting that his father played the piano, stand-up bass, tuba and baritone horn.

He marched with the Ohio State University band, and in 1949 dotted the "i" in Script Ohio, Tony D'Angelo said, adding that Gov. Jim Rhodes once said about his father: "I've never seen someone get so much mileage out of dotting the 'i'."

He met Priscilla Ruth Smith at a swimming pool in Upper Arlington. She told him to call her, but he didn't until a week or so later. "I went through 17 Smiths in the phone book before I got to her," D'Angelo would recall decades later. "She said, 'I thought you were going to call me.' I said, 'I am calling you.' "

They were married in 1949 and had four children: sons Jeffrey, Tim, Tony and daughter Beverly, who became a well-known actress who has starred in numerous films including as the wife in the National Lampoon's vacation films and as Patsy Cline in "Coal Miner's Daughter.?

Priscilla D'Angelo died in 2013 at age 87.

In 1955, D'Angelo got a job as an ad salesman for Columbus AM radio station WTVN, rose to sales manager and then general manager. In 1969 he moved his family to Buffalo, New York, for a job running a television station there, but returned to Columbus in 1972 as the head of the Wolfe family broadcasting properties.

"He was bigger than life is what he was," Tiberi said. "He knew the news, sports, music."

He at times led the board of and arranged musical scores for the Columbus Symphony. He also led the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts and the Columbus Arts Festival, and was instrumental in bringing a replica of Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria to Columbus in 1992.

"It was his idea," Tony D'Angelo said of the Santa Maria replica. "He had the boat built and shipped here."

As then-reporter and now Dispatch Editor Alan Miller interviewed him in 1993 on his retirement from WBNS, D'Angelo predicted that local television stations would return to their roots of producing more local shows. But how it all played out would be for the next generation to figure out, he said, because "I'm outta here, babe."

Gene's tenure in the marching band began in 1944. At the age of 16, he auditioned (successfully) for a spot in K-Row while still in high school. He completed the season before being discovered. The staff advised him to return when he was enrolled at Ohio State, which he did, playing sousaphone in K-Row in 1949 and 1951.