Arts and Leisure

Salty Brine for 51 Years Announces News, Weather and No School Fosta Glosta

salty-brine-cartoon

Back in the day, broadcasting legend Salty Brine was as much a part of Rhode Island life as Del’s Lemonade, coffee milk and free parking at the beach.

Salty Brine and Jeff

Salty Brine and Jeff

Baby Boomers who grew up in the Ocean State ran home from school to watch Salty’s Shack, co-hosted by Jeff the collie and featuring Popeye cartoons, The Little Rascals and the Three Stooges.

When it snowed, they anxiously listened to Salty Brine announce school closings on WPRO-AM. Two towns in northwest Rhode Island, Foster and Glocester, were inevitably snowbound. Salty Brine lumped them together as “No school, Fosta-Glosta.” Some Rhode Islanders still believe there's a town out there called Fosta-Glosta.

For 51 years, Salty Brine brought enthusiasm and cheer to WPRO as a disc jockey, newsman and talk-show host. For legions of Rhode Island children, it was an unforgettable experience to get his autograph, shake his hand or pet Jeff.

Salty Brine Beginnings

He was born Walter Leslie Brine in the Boston suburb of Arlington, Mass., on Aug. 18, 1918, the youngest of four children. His parents were from Nova Scotia. His father was a carpenter.

He always loved the ocean, hence the nickname. His friends called him ‘Walt the Salt.’

At the age of nine he lost his leg trying to jump on a freight train near his home. The accident turned out to be providential. It kept him out of World War II. He landed a job with WNAC-AM in Boston, after graduating from Staley School of the Spoken Word in Brookline in 1941. (John F. Kennedy and James Michael Curley polished their speaking skills there as well.) He also worked at WESX in Salem and WCOP in Boston until 1942, when he got the WPRO job that lasted 51 years.

Rise and Shine

salty-brine-2Generations of Rhode Islanders woke to the sound of Salty Brine telling them to “Rise and shine with Salty Brine.” In summer he warned against sunburn with his line, “Time to turn so you don’t burn.”

Advertisers loved him because his product announcements boosted sales. He sold furniture and mattresses with the line, “Nobody beats Cardi's! No-ho-ho-body!” He sold snacks, too, with perfect pronunciation: “Maid Rite Poe-tay-toe Chips!"

Salty’s Shack went on the air, live, from 1955 to 1968. Each show ended with his signature line, "Brush your teeth and say your prayers."

Many a Rhode Island baby boomer cried when Jeff died in 1961. Salty got another collie, Little Jeff, from the pound. One woman said she’s still pining:

Not long after I was married way back in the 1970s, my husband shook me awake in the middle of the night with a concerned look on his face. Evidently, I had been carrying on—in my sleep!—about "Jeff."

He looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Hey, who's JEFF???"

After I grumbled and cursed and hemmed and hawed a bit, I managed to open one eye and say, "He's Salty Brine's dog, you idiot!" after which I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep.

Needless to say, that man and I are no longer married.

Colorful, Cheerful, Comforting

salty-brine-cartoonHe was sensitive to people with disabilities. He spent a lot of time in hospitals visiting kids who lost limbs and made many, many appearances for charity.

On air he was colorful, cheerful and comforting.

In the 1940s, one woman called in frequently to request songs. She told him her woes about the diapers frozen on the line. She had a new story about the diapers every day, so Salty began calling her the Diaper Lady.

During the blizzard of ’78, he stayed at the station around the clock to give the weather news.

Once, after a weather report from Nancy Byers, Salty announced he had just received a message from a viewer and read it:

"Please advise Miss Byers that I've just finished shoveling fourteen inches of light fog out of my driveway."

Retirement

Once in 2003 the joke was on him. In a locally famous broadcast, an elderly caller asked disc jockey Steve Kass, "What's this I hear about Salty Brine being accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman... he's married and he's 84 years old!" Kass replied that it was Kobe Bryant. To which she replied, "What?"

On Salty Brine’s 35th anniversary with WPRO, the radio station on Wampanoag Trail was named the Brine Broadcasting Center, nicknamed the Brine Shrine.

salty-brine-head-shotIn 1990 a beach near his home was renamed after him.

Salty Brine retired from WPRO in 1993 and lived long enough to see his beloved Red Sox win the World Series. He died at his home in Narragansett, R.I., on Nov. 2, 2004.

His only child, Walter L. "Wally" Brine, is co-host of the Loren and Wally Morning Show on WROR-FM in Boston.

To see a profile of Salty Brine on (and a lot of big 1980s hair) on PM Magazine, click here.

With thanks to Quahog.com. 

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Norman Schell

    November 10, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    “It’s four bells and you know what that means!”

  2. Joel O'Brien

    November 10, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    I grew up in Watertown, MA and watched Salty on a snowy channel 12. I entered a contest he had and won a Remco signal gun! It lit up and went “Beep-Beep” when you pulled the trigger.

  3. Stuffie

    December 22, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for the ‘thank you’!

  4. Pingback: How To Talk Rhode Island - New England Historical Society

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