97 Rock morning man Larry Norton made a surprise announcement this morning as he began his annual Make-a-Wish Foundation marathon.
Around 8 a.m., Norton told his WGRF-FM audience that he plans to retire on Dec. 4 after more than 30 years as the station’s morning host and 40 years in Buffalo radio.
Norton, who will be working his 21st Make-a-Wish marathon until 10 a.m. Friday, said his retirement plans include spending time with his wife of 36 years, Barbara, and working together for their church and favorite charities.
A native of Buffalo, the 59-year-old Norton has primarily done his show from his Florida residence for the past several years. He also comes to Buffalo occasionally -- today's marathon is an example -- to do it.
He is a graduate of Amherst High School and Buffalo State College and began his radio career as a student.
In 1985, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records by spending 40 days on the new Ferris wheel at the then- Darien Lake Amusement Park to promote the new attraction while broadcasting the entire time.
His 40 years broadcasting on local radio also is some kind of record, according to a release from Cumulus Media, which owns 97 Rock. The release noted that the 40 years on local radio makes Norton "Buffalo’s longest-running morning show host."
Norton was a little busy this morning but was quoted in a Cumulus release as saying: “After 40 years on the radio in Buffalo, and living my dream to be the morning radio host for my generation, I have decided to 'Turn the Page' to the next chapter of my life. 97 Rock has been, and will always be, an amazing and inseparable part of me. But now, together with my wonderful wife Barbara who has supported me for 36 years as of this month, it is time to elevate our life from our many blessed successes, to a life of more significance. As of December, we will be devoting more of our time to works of charity, for God and for our church. I can't thank the people of Buffalo enough for their support for me and the charities of Western New York that together we have helped over the last 40 years. From the entirety of my heart, thank you, Buffalo! Rock and Roll Never Forgets, and I will always love you.”
In the same release, Steve Bearance, Vice President/Market Manager for Cumulus Buffalo, said: “It has been a great honor and privilege to work with a true professional and iconic radio legend over the past few years and I wish Larry all the happiness that comes with retirement. He will always be a part of 97 Rock and it is truly great to see that all of Western New York will be able to enjoy his last 80 days live on air.”
John Hager, the program director for 97 Rock, added: “Larry has been the “rock” of 97 Rock for over three decades. His name is synonymous with the station, charity and Buffalo. We thank him for his many contributions to our station and community and wish him all the best in his retirement.”