Veteran Air Talent Valerie Smaldone Remembers Radio Executive Rick Buckley’s Many Positive Qualities

As we reported last week, Rick Buckley died on July 31. As head of Buckley Radio, his biggest purchase for the company was WOR Radio.

At WOR, Valerie Smaldone came to know Buckley well. The longtime WLTW DJ says he loved what he did.

“[He was] truly passionate about WOR and all of his stations,” Smaldone says. “He loved local radio.”

But even though a 70-something executive, Smaldone says Buckley embraced the future of radio.

“Rick understood completely the value of the WOR [web] stream and downloadable podcasts,” Smaldone says. “Rick not only wanted to bring original talk content to the WOR stream, but he built a separate online country music station.”

Smaldone also knows a thing or two about WOR web product, hosting a weekly online talk show, exclusively for WOR.

“Although I had been offered a job at WOR and didn’t accept it once before, Rick never had bad feelings about that experience,” Smaldone recalls. “He understood and supported my decision, and it didn’t deter him from having me come on board at a later time.”

That “later time” was when Smaldone (right) left Lite-FM in December 2007. By March of 2008, she was filling in for veteran daytime host Joan Hamburg and on the morning show.

But Smaldone’s connection to Buckley goes even farther back. 

“I met Rick and his wife, Connie, when I was still in college, because Connie is the sister of a dear friend of mine,” Smaldone reflects. “When Steve and I were at Fordham and working on a project, we actually went to their lovely home in Connecticut to work on it together.” 

 After her long friendship with Buckley, Smaldone has nothing but fond memories!

“I will always remember Rick for his enthusiasm, generosity, and his big smile, as well as his love for the industry, and of course, his family and friends,” Smaldone recalls. “Rick was extremely proud of his daughter, Jennifer, for being such an integral part of the company and carrying on the Buckley tradition. This is a huge loss for us all.”