What is Bisso?
Could be the name of a new pasta. A cleaner for your car. It’s Ossib spelled backwards.
My closest radio friends know exactly who I mean with that one word. But it came as part of a set: George Bisso.
In my days at Sandusky Radio (19 years, to be exact), there were only two chief engineers–the unflappable Jim Stevens and a guy named George Bisso.
One day, Jim Stevens said, “That’s enough” and announced his retirement from engineering. I’ve heard reports here and there about him, doing quite well, living a quiet, simple life. Heard he even sold an invention or two.
When George Bisso took over, I’ll admit, I found him a little intimidating. He had a gruff voice. It was safe to say he was a large man. But once you got to know him, once you went on a remote or two and had him watching your back, making sure you were on the air and sounding the best you possibly could.
No man is a saint. Well, except for Peter and those other guys. But when you got to know George, you found out he was a lot of bark and very little bite. He’d stroll into work with one of those plaid shirts and black pants and always carried the weight of the Sandusky engineering world on his shoulders. If a tower was having problems, he’d take those backroads up to Tiger Mountain. If a station was static-ee, it was up to him to fix it.
His nickname was “Griz”, as in short for “Grizzly Bear.” A classic Bisso moment would be him barking out something that made it sound like you were in trouble….but once he saw that deer-in-the-headlights look in your eyes, he’d break into a toothy smile and be your best pal. “I was just kiddin’,” he’d say, and suddenly, you were dealing with a big teddy bear. That was Bisso.
Yeah, “was.” George passed away a couple of weeks ago and it marked another part of my former radio career fading away. I easily worked with him for over a decade and while a bunch of friends are gathering this Sunday to remember him, I’m having a hard time remembering any “George stories.” Sure, I can remember springing into action to fix something with the radio station, but that was his job. That was his passion.
Well, THAT and his family. He often spoke about his wife Judy (formerly with the Federal Communications Commission) and I can’t tell you how many times he showed me the latest picture of his beautiful daughter, Amber.
My last 10+ years in radio were made up of a lot of things–format tweaks, program directors fired, a morning show breakup and George Bisso. Oh, sure, there were lots of other things, but of the short list I just gave you, Bisso had to be the highlight. He was the constant, he was a supporter and one of Alice Porter’s biggest fans. There were more than a couple of times that he would say to me, “Don’t you guys think you’re being a little hard on Alice?” We liked to kid each other, but he was ready to defend her to the end.
It’s been a couple of years since I last talked with George. To be honest, I had no idea he was 65 years old. But in the grand scheme of things, while he lived a shortened life, he lived it the way he wanted, doing what he lived.
I believe there’s something after all this. There has to be. And I’m pretty confident that where ever and whatever it’s like, George is probably making it work better even as we speak.
Nice life, Bisso.