WQXR Staff Remembers Lloyd Moss

Monday, August 05, 2013

WQXR hosts share their favorite memories about Lloyd Moss, the WQXR announcer from 1955-2006 who died on August 3.


Elliott Forrest, Midday Host

In the early 1980’s I was living in Kansas City, MO and on the radio at KXTR, the then classical radio station in that area. One of the national radio shows we aired was “First Hearing”, hosted by Lloyd Moss. This was a great program and heard around the country. We all learned a great deal about new classical recordings and got a weekly glimpse into the New York music scene. We also got to hear the charm, warmth and classical knowledge of Lloyd Moss.

I was in my early 20s and was program director. I decided to write Mr. Moss a letter to ask him to voice a set of promos for his show on our station. In addition to my cover letter, I mailed (yes, this was before email) a list of promos I wanted him to do:

“This is Lloyd Moss and you’re listening to First Hearing on KXTR.”

“I’m Lloyd Moss inviting you to listen to First Hearing, Monday nights at 9pm here on KXTR, Kansas City, MO”, etc.

But I decided I'd push my luck and went on to script possible "slug" lines for the station itself:

“This KXTR, Kansas, MO.”

“You’re listening to Classical Radio in Kansas City, MO, KXTR”, etc.

We were all in awe of Lloyd and his great voice. He was also the gold standard for classical announcers. While I dreamed of him being the “voice” of our little station, which was literally in horse pasture, I didn’t really expect him to do the additional lines. I had already heard him voice national television commercials. Why would he do this for free? So I mailed off my request and waited.

In fairly short order a small reel-to-reel tape arrived. I strung it up on our Ampex tape player and Lloyd had read every line I requested. For years we used Lloyd’s voice, not just on “First Hearing”, but daily.

Only after 18 months in KC, I made the big move to New York. Within a few months of landing in the Big Apple I was producing a corporate video project, with many voiceover talents needed. We held auditions and who should show up, but Lloyd! I was shocked and honored to see him and to meet him in person for the first time. Of course we hired him. I’d have done anything for him to return his previous kindness.

By the time I got to WQXR it was almost surreal to be around Lloyd. He wasn’t just a voice or a radio personality, but a friend and mentor. From the beginning, he was always kind and giving. My friends and I attempting to break into the voice-over business used to talk about the "Five Guys" who got all the work. In those days, it seemed, there was a set of deep voiced, stentorian types that got everything and Lloyd was one of them. I had heard his Listerine add for years. Lloyd did the tag for scores of Listerine ads. You'd hear him at the end of the commercials saying, “Listerine, twice a day."

I’ll claim up front that this is probably slightly apocryphal, but there was a rumor going around that Lloyd bought an apartment and created his family college funds with just those four words!

Lloyd had been on WQXR for 50 years. Not consecutively. There was a brief period when he left to pursue voiceovers and acting, but he then returned. But all told, he was heard on WQXR for a half a century. What a legacy. His tone was conversational and friendly. And if you listened carefully, he was also irreverent, at times.

For a few wonderful years, my wife owned and operated a children’s bookstore in Nyack, where we live. It always brought a smile to my face to see Lloyd’s children’s books on the shelves. I remember going to some outdoor summer festival, where authors would read stories and Lloyd came and read Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. What a great combination: that amazing voice, a fun story and kids hearing about classical music.

Lloyd’s last full-time radio slot on WQXR was afternoon drive. He had put in his time, was ready to step down and the management asked me to take over. It was a bittersweet day for me the day I assumed that position.

I could not help remembering that first letter I wrote him so many years before and how bizarre it felt to now be taking over his time slot. As always, he was gracious and kind. Years later, Lloyd was honored by the Music Conservatory of Westchester and the family asked me to speak about Lloyd and present him with their award. I jumped at the chance.

I have had many role models and mentors in my blessed life. I will always consider Lloyd Moss at the top of the list.

Jeff Spurgeon, Morning Host

 Lloyd Moss is why I fell in love with WQXR. It was in 1986, long before I worked at the station. I was a new resident of New York, having just moved to Long Island from the Midwest. I found a radio station with classical music, and it happened to be WQXR. One day, when I was casually listening, I heard the announcer say, "That was the English Suite by composer John Ireland. In just a moment, we'll bring you the Irish Suite by John England."

My ears pricked up. "That's remarkable," I thought. "There's an English Suite by John Ireland AND and an Irish Suite by John England?" Well, there wasn't, but the announcer's tiny piece of wordplay made me listen more carefully the next time he spoke – what would he say this time? – and the next, and the next, and for years after. Of course, it was Lloyd Moss.

Lloyd was associated with WQXR for 53 years as staff announcer, interviewer and program host. He was witty – in the old-fashioned sense of wit – not just funny, but intelligent and clever. He was skilled with foreign languages, and utterly professional in every sense.

Humor on the radio is mostly ephemeral, and there are thousands of brilliant things Lloyd said that I can't remember. They were all delivered in the same clear, dry tone that he used to introduce a work by Vivaldi or Beethoven, and often they went by unnoticed. But Lloyd made you listen for them. My favorite example is something he tossed off one day after a cheese commercial. The spot ended, and Lloyd opened the mic and said, "What a friend we have in cheeses." And then he simply gave the weather forecast and introduced whatever piece of music came next, never even winking an eye to the audience as he made a silly, but also brilliant, pun. That was Lloyd's wit – if you weren't listening carefully, you might have missed it.

Lloyd had deep respect for musicians and the music he played. He made fun of lots of things, but never insultingly, and he never made fun of the music itself.

People ask me if Lloyd was as funny in person as he was on the air, and the answer is no. Lloyd was even funnier off the air – zinging conversations with great puns and clever observations. He wrote children's books and clever verse, and he never cheated poetic rhythm and never made a false rhyme. He was honorable craftsman of words.

He was a gentleman, too – polite, charming and caring. I learned some things about manners from Lloyd.

Lloyd Moss was one of my radio mentors. When I first began listening to WQXR, and found Lloyd, I never dreamed I would one day become his colleague. He was very supportive of colleagues at WQXR and had no airs about himself. He offered coaching, and was always kind in his corrections of my mistaken pronunciations, and had good suggestions for improving copy when he recorded announcements or programs.

Lloyd Moss was perfect for WQXR, and WQXR was perfect for Lloyd. But what I will remember most about him was the warmth, the kindness, the humor and the decency of the man himself. His listeners were lucky to have had the great announcer for so long, but his friends and family were luckier yet to have known the man.


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Comments [16]

Edward Gilbert from Sherman Oaks, CA

WQXR seems always to have been an important part of my life and the voice of Lloyd Moss an integral part of WQXR. Although I moved to Los Angeles in 1988, memories of both have remained with me both in my mind and in the numerous tapes I still enjoy of long-past WQXR broadcasts with Lloyd Moss' voice over. Fortunately, the Internet keeps me in touch with WQXR whenever I have the need, but I will miss the friendly and comforting voice of Lloyd Moss. He will be missed.

Aug. 11 2013 05:10 PM
Martin Bookspan

I joined WQXR as Director of Recorded Music in October, 1956. One of the first people to greet me was Lloyd. I instantly felt his gracious warmth and we quickly became friends. The term "class act" must have been invented for Lloyd, for he was the epitome of wit and elegance.

It was my privileged fortune to experience both those special Lloyd qualities week after week as we would gather at the 'QXR studios to tape that week's installment in "First Hearing'---he as Moderator and I as a member of the original panel of critics. And when family circumstances made me unavailable to participate in two "Live From Lincoln Center" programs, my unhesitating instinct was to recommend Lloyd as my substitute. Needless to say he filled that role with his impeccable professionalism.

A high compliment to a person is the remark "The world is a better place for your presence". With Lloyd now gone, the World is a lesser place for his absence.


Aug. 08 2013 11:53 AM
Nancy Wight from New York City

What wonderful and gracious tributes to dear Lloyd Moss. He was a real favorite of mine always. (I even remember Al Grobe when I could just barely get WQXR in northern Maine; sometimes just a faint frustrating signal.) WQXR was my musical education until I moved to New York.

Spurgeon and Forrest, you most ably fill Moss's shoes. Thanks for the memories.

Nancy Wight

Aug. 07 2013 11:47 AM
Doris Fenske from New Jersey

When I learned about the death of Lloyd Moss I felt I had lost a friend. His marvelous voice and his wit were just as precious to me as the wonderful music he played on the air for more than 50 years. I just want to express my deepest sympathy to his family and tell them what a difference Lloyd Moss made in my life. I know that thousands of listeners must feel the same way. We will miss him greatly. Thank you, Lloyd, for being that magical voice for so many years.

Aug. 07 2013 09:45 AM
Elizabeth Steffen from Old Saybrook, CT

Lloyd Moss was just one of many voices I loved at WQXR. His wit and knowledge were wonderful, and I could listen to his voice for hours. I also enjoyed Duncan Pirnie, who made my ride back to Connecticut, from teaching in Yonkers a laugh fest.

Aug. 07 2013 07:49 AM
Chris from Glimmerglass

I've been a QXR listener m whole life and I grew up with Lloyd. I am so glad others remembered his witty comments! What great tributes from Elliott, Jeff and my dear friend June Lebell.

Aug. 06 2013 05:36 PM
Maryalice Murphy from Pelham, NY

It was how he combined the anniversary of a classic American cookie and a memorable ad campaign for a classic German car for my favorite pun ever: "I want to congratulate all Fig Newtons, near, and all fahrfignugens." (sp.?)And oh, that voice.

Aug. 06 2013 01:53 PM
Catherine West from Wantage, New Jersey

I will always remember the time Mr. Moss announced Sheep May Safely Graze as "next, we will have good news for sheep".

May you rest in safe pastures, Mr. Moss.

Aug. 06 2013 12:23 PM
lana from long island

i listened to lloyd moss every day growing up in a musical household and continued to do so until he retired. he was a wonderful announcer for WQXR!

Aug. 06 2013 12:06 PM
Janet from Brooklyn

I always loved his sense of humor, which I have greatly missed.

Aug. 05 2013 08:41 PM
GCL from Astoria Queens

I've been listening to the station for years now. In fact I recall many interesting things about Lloyd. But especially his humor.

I remember his introduction to a work by Ravel, and it turns out that the work has that example of history behind it, its not just what was used for the album.

Thank you Lloyd Moss for making the station a good place to spend my time listening.

Aug. 05 2013 07:59 PM
Steve Dworkin from NY

When I started my career as a recording engineer back in the 70s, Lloyd was one of the first regular VO people who I worked with. Not only could he read a 10 page script in one take, but always a pleasure to work with and know. R.I.P Lloyd.

Aug. 05 2013 05:12 PM

I'm a lifelong WQXR listener, and Lloyd Moss pretty much WAS WQXR! His sense of humor just glistened, and I appreciated the wit of a fellow wordsmith. He was always fun to listen too. I'll never forget one afternoon, as I was driving home from work, he came out with, "What do you get when you cross an insomniac with a dyslexic and an agnostic? Someone who stays up all night wondering if there really is a dog." I almost crashed the car. After a day at a stressful, abusive job, that zinger made my day worth getting up for. When he retired, I sent him an e-mail and he replied immediately and most graciously. So sad to lose such an icon. My dad remembers him when he was at WHLI (I think) on Long Island.

Rest peacefully, Lloyd, but also keep the angels amused with your zingers!

Aug. 05 2013 05:02 PM
Cory Haber from Silver Spring

I worked as an engineer for lloyd Moss in 1969 for a period of time at WQXR AM/FM.Mr. Moss was so kind to a young engineer.I went on to a 43 year career in Broadcasting.

Aug. 05 2013 04:57 PM
Vinny Marino from Staten Island, NY

Nice job, both of you.

Aug. 05 2013 04:39 PM

Jeff, my God. I just read your piece and I am in tears. Thank you for being so generous about Dad. He thought you were great, professionally and personally, and he was so happy for your successes. I've given the link to the family so they can read your thoughts as well. What a kindness it is to hear all this right now. - West

Aug. 05 2013 04:26 PM

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