In a competitive industry jammed with people and positions, Bob stood out. His good looks were a plus for his TV work but his mellifluous voice was a definite asset for radio and television. His career began in his native South Carolina working as a newsman at WSPA Radio in Spartanburg where he was also an announcer at WSPA-TV, playing "Captain RC" on a kid's quiz show, (sponsored by Royal Crown Cola), and giving away some nice prizes including bikes. But the time came in the late 50s that Robert wanted more and Florida caught his fancy. As Bob told me many years ago, he had an offer to go to Atlanta powerhouse WSB Radio where the management really wanted him, but that feeling was not mutual. Bob wound up going to work at WSUN, (perhaps the definitive call letters for Florida), in St. Petersburg.
That was a radio-TV operation on the scenic Gulf Coast where Vaughn worked on both sides of the building and recalled getting an occasional shot at national exposure. When ABC's Paul Harvey would bring his traveling microphone to St. Pete he would originate from WSUN and Paul's announcer then on his network radio broadcasts was Robert Vaughn. Indeed, that was a treat for him! As time went on, the Vaughns were packing again. Next stop was Miami where Bob had a radio news job at WGBS.
It's my recollection that was not a very long stay, but the next move was meaningful as he was recruited by Metromedia to be the morning anchor at Philadelphia's WIP Radio. As newsman Andy Fisher recalls, Bob's presence was significant:
When I arrived at WIP in 1965 for my brief news staff stint between college and the draft, Bob was the top-of-the-hour, morning-drive newscaster, working with the durable and legendary John Paul Weber. Philadelphia was, at the time, the number-four market, and WIP was the top-billing (if not also the top-rated) station. Like all of us, Bob got a lot of valuable tips from the "Hotline," a direct phone line to the newsroom ($25 for the week's best tip) that turned the whole city into parts of the news staff. Bob's impeccable delivery brought it all together. It was exciting to be on the same news staff with such a fine professional!
Two years later in 1967 and through the magic of word of mouth, Robert Vaughn learned that WCBS in New York was going all-news. He wanted to be a part of that. Bob auditioned and got the job, being hired among the first wave of anchors for the station that founder William S. Paley was anxious to see come to life. But this was no cup of coffee stop on the Vaughn resume. Bob was on staff at WCBS for 21 years with the last eight in morning-drive with co-anchor Jim Donnelly. How did they sound together? Many said "excellent!"
It was July of 1988 when Bob Vaughn took his leave from what was then popularly known as Newsradio88. He and wife, Ruby, moved to the Atlanta area where Robert went to work for WCNN. Eventually, he made his way to Florida for some full-time R&R. We would see one another on occasion when my wife Ros and I would vacation in the Greater Tampa area where my older daughter lived. Our friendship went back to 1974 when I was first hired as a freelance anchor and writer at WCBS. It was suggested before my first day on the air that I sit-in with one of the regulars. I randomly chose Robert Vaughn and he could not have been nicer and more helpful. Through the ensuing years, he remained a caring friend and we stayed in touch.
Robert Vaughn is survived by his daughter, Pam, and two sons, Rob, who's the three decade, lead news anchor at WFMZ (TV) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Mike, a quarter-century videographer at CNBC. Bob is also survived by his brother Boe, age 95, and his companion of recent years, Anne Soderman. (below) Bob's wife, Ruby, pre-deceased him by five years after 56 years of marriage. I still recall that when Robert Vaughn decided to 'retire' from WCBS, the Director of News Operations, Harvey Nagler, referred to Bob as ''One of the great voices in broadcasting." Indeed, that was a right on-the-money comment!