‘Quiet genius’ remembered for moving home to run family’s Middletown radio station

Doug Braden was described as “a quiet genius” who dedicated years of his life to improving a Middletown radio station.

Braden, who spent 40 years as the owner/operator of WPFB AM/FM in Middletown and WPAY AM/FM in Portsmouth, died Friday at Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine. He was 85. He suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his family said.

Braden left his insurance business in California and returned to Middletown to take over WPFB in 1985, when his father died.

His sister-in-law, Eleanor Condo, 77, of Michigan, said Braden’s apartment was above the old farmhouse studio at 4505 Central Ave. and he rarely left except to work at the station in Portsmouth.

“He gave it his all,” Condo said.

She said WPFB, then a religious station, was turned into The Rebel, an extremely popular station in the region. Condo, Braden’s secretary in California, followed him to Middletown, and for 11 years, served as bookkeeper at WPFB.

She said Braden was always in competition with larger radio stations in Dayton and Cincinnati. WPFB survived because of his promotions that came from his “very creative mind,” she said.

Braden also was an honorary deputy sheriff with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Braden, a Dayton native and Ohio State University graduate, worked as an insurance broker in California before entering the radio business.

He’s survived by a daughter, Lisa Braden, of Huntsville, and a stepson, David Elliott, of Lemoore, Calif. There will be no services at this time. Arrangements are being handled by Eichholtz Daring & Sanford Funeral Home & Cremation Center, Bellefontaine.

Braden will be cremated and placed near two of his dogs, Condo said.

In 2016, for the second time in five years, Middletown’s WPFB-AM (910) radio station was sold. Northern Kentucky University sold the rights for $450,000 to Sacred Heart Radio, the Catholic station broadcasting on WNOP-AM (740), said Sean O’Mealy, NKU’s general manager.

Jim Levitt, general manager of Sacred Heart Radio, said the Catholic station was interested in the AM station for about three years, but the two stations couldn’t reach a financial agreement. He said WPFB-AM was appraised at $700,000, and NKU was asking $650,000, he said.

But when the asking price dropped, and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati donated a “nice chunk of dough,” Sacred Heart Radio was able to purchase the station, Levitt said. He said the Catholic station is funded by listener donations.

Besides the license, Sacred Heart Radio, based in Norwood, will pay a $500 monthly fee to use the Middletown tower.

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