Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Radio Trafficopter !

Leonard Baldy was a Chicago native and veteran of World War II. Baldy became a minor celebrity pioneering the use of the radio trafficopter and the radar gun. One of those has become a useful staple of the New talk station during rush hour all over America. The other a pox upon the lead-footed. More here.

He wasn't' the first cop in a trafficopter. In 1964 the National Research Council had already released a study on the effectiveness of trafficopters. But Officer Baldy was the first to really take it to radio. He gained was the first patrolman in the United States to experiment with the radar gun. the year was 1954. With it be also became the first police officer in the world to write a ticket for speeding using a radar device. In was on Chicago station WGN-AM where he made live traffic reports from the sky. He actually did demonstrations of the device on Television that same year. More here.

After his death, he was elected to the National Police Hall of Fame and had his badge number retired. In 2007 the city of Chicago memorialized him renaming a street "Leonard Baldy Way". In 2006, his son, Tim Baldy, published a biography entitled Chicago's Finest.

But he wasn't the only trafficopter man in radio land. Radio station 970 WEBR-AM took to the air in 1959 . Their Jack Sharpemade traffic reporting into a broadcast news staple. In 1967 1410 KQV-AM sent traffic reporter, Mr. Bob Harvey into the air. He became "Captain Bob" for and made regular trafficopter reports. But a year after that Officer Baldy did when his trafficopter crashed into a suburban Chicago intersection. In 1971, over a decade the city of Chicago had a trafficoptercrash. Officer Irv Hayden died instantly, but the trafficopter lives on.