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John Picano: Radio Legend, SoFla Fair PR Dies

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John Picano: Radio Legend, SoFla Fair PR Dies

John Picano

John Picano, in one of his favorite pastimes! (Via Facebook)

John Picano, a longtime WJNO-1290 AM newsman and South Florida Fair marketing director, has died after a year-long battle with lung cancer.

He was just 60 years old!

He reportedly passed away peacefully while watching television on Thanksgiving morning, at his home near the fairgrounds in Unincorporated West Palm Beach. He is survived by his wife, Kathy, their two sons and daughter.

While Picano tirelessly promoted the fair for the past 17 years, it is in Palm Beach County radio that he made his true mark.

Through the 1980s and ’90s, he was both morning drive-time news anchor and program director.

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As on-air personality, Picano had a voice perfectly-pitched for news that most radio listeners recognized instantly. At one point, he captured 10 percent of the morning audience despite the station’s low, 1,000-watt signal.

A Booming Voice

“He had a super-booming voice,” said Palm Beach County Film Commissioner Chuck Elderd, one of Picano’s on-air hires in the mid-1980s. “You could hear him outside the sound-proof studio.”

For nearly 15 years, and until he nearly lost his voice in the late 1990s, Picano took motorists through morning rush hour with no-nonsense news and talk.

As program director, meanwhile, Picano was credited for making WJNO, then a Fairbanks station, one of the best news station in the history of the Palm Beach/Treasure Coast market.

He managed to lure top talent to a small market, often by just being nice and fair.

His all-star hires included local household names like Jack Cole, Randi Rhodes, Mike Miller, Lee Fowler, Don Silverman, Dick Farrell, Dan Bryan, and others.

Committed to the listeners

Fairness, meanwhile, was important to Picano. For each liberal talker, Picano hired a conservative voice.

“He had two jobs,” Elderd said. “He anchored the morning show, and ran the talk shows for the rest of the day. Through it all, he kept calm, composed and in control. I never saw him lose his temper. That’s rare in radio.”

Picano, Elderd said, slept next to a police scanner and would alert reporters to fires, shooting and breaking news in the middle of the night.

“That’s how committed he was to the listeners,” Elderd said.

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