Veteran reporter Jim “Conrad” Blankenbecler passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. He was 63 years old. Conrad first gained fame as the afternoon DJ on WETB, where he was known as “Cosmic Conrad.” He later joined Bristol Va, NBC affiliate WCYB in 1988 as a reporter, where he was best known for his folksy feature stories.
“He was a wonderful storyteller. I think his strongest attribute was listening,” WCYB vice president and general manager Jack Dempsey told TriCities.com. “You can’t tell a story if you’re not a good listener. He was very fair. Most of his stories were just nice, colorful stories about people in the region that deserve to be heralded.”
WCYB news director John Soares only worked with Conrad for eight months, but he left a lasting impression on him, “He was a professional, a great colleague, a great friend, and truly a great man with a lot of layers,” Soares said. “I will truly miss him.”
Conrad is survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren.