Walter "Salty" Brine

"Remember to Brush Your Teeth
and Say Your Prayers!"

Salty Brine profiled on PM Magazine

   

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Walter "Salty" Brine, whose program on WPRO/Providence was a New England institution for over 50 years, is remembered fondly for his folksy style and contagious enthusiasm and for his commitment to help those in need. The man known for his TV show (Salty Brine's Shack, 1958 to 1968 on Channel 12) send-off: "Brush your teeth and say your prayers" and for his flair in announcing snow cancellations on WPRO radio: "No school, Foster-Glocester!"

Rhode Island radio broadcaster "Salty" Brine was born Walter Leslie Brian on August 8, 1918 in Boston, Massachusetts, the last of four children. His parents were from Nova Scotia; his father was a carpenter. For over 50 years the morning host on popular AM-radio station WPRO, and for 13 years (1955-1968) the host of Salty's Shack, a live children's television broadcast, Mr. Brine has become somewhat of a cultural icon to thousands of Rhode Island residents.

Mr. Brine lived in Massachusetts until he obtained his position as a staff announcer at WPRO in September of 1942. He had prepared himself for a radio career by attending a four-year program at the Staley College for Radio in Brookline, Massachusetts, graduating in 1941 with a Bachelor of Arts in Oratory. He met his wife, Mickey (Marion Owens), at the college; they were married in June, 1943. His first jobs in radio were all in Massachusetts, at WNAC, WESX in Salem, and WCOP in Boston.

In 1943, Mr. Brine began his 50-year run as WPRO's morning announcer on a news show called the TNT Revue, short for "Time, News and Temperature". His radio name derived from the nickname his friends gave him, "Walt the Salt", and a question a listener had about the spelling of his surname. Mr. Brine was as popular with advertisers as he was with regular listeners, as sales tended to increase in response to his presentation of product advertisements.

Breaking into television in 1955, WPRO broadcast a nautically-themed children's program called Salty Brine's Shack, produced live, which Mr. Brine hosted with a collie named Jeff. Both Salty and Jeff evolved into local celebrities. The show ran until 1968, when the station changed ownership from Capital City Broadcasting to Providence Television and became WPRI. That same year, Mr. Brine was asked by Providence mayor Joseph Doorley to run for United States Congress to fill the vacancy of Democrat John Fogarty, who had died. Brine agreed on the condition that he receive the endorsement of the Democratic party, which did not happen, and he withdrew from consideration.  

Click Here To Listen To A Salty Sound Bite!

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A severe leg injury suffered when he was 10 years old made Mr. Brine especially sensitive to people challenged by physical and mental handicaps. In 1959, he began long-term involvement with helping the causes of disabled Rhode Islanders after meeting with Congressman Fogarty, Arthur Trudeau, and Roger Wheeler. The meeting initiated a local fund-raising carnival, run in conjunction with WPRO, called "Salty Brine Fun Days", which benefited the mentally handicapped. The event was repeated several times throughout the 1960s, and ultimately led to the establishment of the Trudeau Memorial Center in Warwick in the late '60s. Many other state and national charitable organizations have benefited from Mr. Brine's endorsement and fundraising participation over the years.

Mr. Brine became a member of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1979, and was the Rhode Island Advertising Club's "Person of the Year" in 1988, the first time in twenty years the award went to a radio personality rather than an industry executive. In 1989, he won the "Lifebeat Top Jock Award", a contest run by the Providence Journal. In 1996, the Big Brothers organization distinguished Salty with the Robert "Cy" Killian Humanitarian Award.

In April, 1993, ownership of WPRO-AM and -FM was taken over by Telemedia Broadcasting Company of Pennsylvania, at which time Mr. Brine decided to retire from the station. Mr. Brine's last regular morning broadcast took place April 28th, 1993. He still did winter-storm cancellation announcements for the station.

Mr. Brine and wife Mickey have one son, Walter Brine Jr., who is a radio personality on WROR-FM in Boston. 


Salty Brine at his 85th birthday.

Walter ''Salty'' Brine died at his 
Narragansett home in 2004. He was 86.

Growing up in RI during the 1950 & 1960s

You cried when Salty Brine's collie Jeff died.
You remember when Art Lake and Salty Brine had dark hair.
You remember Sara Wye, Franz Laubert, Mort Blender, and Jay Kroll.
You remember Jack Comley and Dick Pace doing talk radio on WJAR.
You remember the Outlet Company at Christmastime: Toyland in the basement and the Christmas windows.
You smile wistfully when you think of the names Shepards, Woolworths, Grants, Peerless, Gladdings, and City Hall Hardware.
You remember Newberry's downtown.
You remember when they turned Westminster Street into a mall.
You remember when Kmart was still Kresge's.
You bought your books at Read-All or the Paperback Bookstore on Weybosset Street.
Before you went home from a trip downtown you bought some fruit or groceries from the Market Basket.
You once ate at the Ming Garden or the Waldorf Cafeteria.
You remember when it was the Sheraton Biltmore.
You were assured by classmates that the Industrial National Bank building was the same one as in the opening of the Superman TV series.
You remember when they used to show all the Disney films at the Majestic Theater.
You remember the RKO Albee, the Loew's State, and the Strand.
Your mom wouldn't let you go near the Strand 'cause they showed "dirty movies."
You remember that neat paperback bookstore cattycorner from the Outlet having so many books and rock posters that the cashier had to sit up in a little booth.
Being bussed to the Rhode Island Philharmonic once a year for a special concert for schoolchildren.
You remember when that big pyramid that became Apex went up in Pawtucket.
You remember when WPRI was WPRO.
You remember neighborhood bakeries and all the great pastries they carried: lemon squares, New Yorkers, cornets, zeppoles, and sfogliatelles.
You know what a hermit is (and it's not a strange old guy who lives alone in the woods).
You remember when Garden City was just about the only shopping center out in that direction.
You remember when Garden City was just about the only thing out there besides farms and houses and how at Christmastime when they put up their light display you could drive to the top of Laurel Hill Avenue and see it shining like a beacon in the distance .
You remember the coal tipple that used to be on the north side of Sakonasset Road at what's now the "back end" of Garden City.
You remember Child World.
Your parents would threaten to "send you to Sakonasset" when you were particularly bad.
Your mother would say, when you made her crazy, "You're going to drive me to Howard!"
You remember Reservoir Avenue when it was only two lanes.
You remember driving north to Massachusetts before there was an interstate, on Routes 1 and 128, or maybe out Route 6 to the Cape, or up 146.
You have fond memories of Rocky Point, Crescent Park, and Jolly Cholly's.
You remember when Rhode Island Mall was Midland Mall . . You remember when Midland Mall opened.
You remember the junkyard that used to be across from Fiore Pontiac (and you wondered if the old trade-ins went there).
You used to love the Cranston Drive-In.
You wondered if they gave out free samples at the Eclipse syrup plant.
You remember free parking at the beach.
Your mom grocery shopped at Almacs, Stop and Shop, Finast, or the A&P.
Heck, when your mom shopped at a neighborhood supermarket like Food Town.
You remember Warwick Shopper's World, Niantic Mills, and the Ben Franklin Store.
Your parents still referred to Warwick Shopper's World and Ann & Hope as "mill outlets" and going to one of these stores was "going to the mill."
Your parents still referred to the airport as "Hillsgrove."
You remember when the section of Cranston at the intersection of Park Avenue and Gansett Avenue was called "the Speedway."
You know what a "superette" and a "spa" were (and that the latter had nothing to do with health clubs).
You remember when Bald Hill Road was almost all farms.
You remember the big old buildings in downtown Newport waterfront before they remodeled it.
You remember when there wasn't a McDonald's in Rhode Island.
You remember Burger Chef and Jeff.
You bought a small Del's Lemonade for only a dime, Hershey bars for 10 cents, popsicles a nickel, and penny candy--for a penny!
You remember going to Stamp's Farm for eggs and Highland Orchards for apples.
You passed the Narragansett Brewery on your way downtown--and people were working there.
One of the big landmarks on Post Road was the Scholes roller rink.
Every time a hurricane was forecast your mom and dad or grandparents would immediately talk about the Hurricane of 1938.
Heck, they'd take you downtown to show you the high-water plaque on the Providence Journal-Bulletin building.
You remember Trifari and Coro being two of the biggest employers in town.
Instead of getting your chickens from the supermarket, your mom or dad went to the chicken man in Silver Lake.
Your parents took you to the Slater Zoo.
You remember Bosco and Maypo.
You remember the old Calart's Christmas display.
You remember the big rivalry between Old Stone Bank and Citizens Bank--especially between the kids who had savings accounts with either bank in school.
The moment you drove out of Rhode Island no one had coffee milk or coffee ice cream any longer.
You still have nightmares about "Choo-Choo" on the Railroad Salvage commercials.

 

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