19 January 1983
Recovering from plane crash: Accident lands D.J. home for coast-to-coast broadcast
by Susan Glassey
The Packet Group
The president of the United States is not the only person able to conduct fireside chats with most of the nation.
Radio personality and former Franklin Township Mayor Bruce Williams started Monday to sit in his home before his 250-year-old fireplace to chat with the nation each evening on the syndicated radio program “Talknet.” For two days Mr. Williams broad-casted the National Broadcasting Company program from his hospital bed at Princeton Medical Center but returned home Saturday for the first time since his airplane crashed at Princeton Airport Dec. 5.
Sitting with feet propped up on his living room couch. Mr. Williams gazed around the room which has been reorganized into a makeshift studio with wires leading to control panels occupying one end of the room. Set up of the “studio” at the Williams home began at 2 p.m. for an 8 p.m. broadcast, said Mr. Williams.
“This has to be the first coast to coast broadcast from Franklin Township in 55 years,” he said to two engineers making final adjustments at control panels.
Marking a point in broadcasting history is not the main thing Mr. Williams thinks about.
“I’m very lucky to be alive. The good Lord was smiling on me,” he said.
Mr. Williams’ single engine plane crashed Dec. 5 at Princeton Airport at 3:30 p.m. on a return trip from Monmouth County Airport. Mr. Williams suffered internal bleeding and lacerations of the small intestine and received significant damage to his left leg which has since been reconstructed with metal plates near the knee joint.
“Rescue squads saved my life,” he said.
Rescue squads from Montgomery, Rocky Hill and Princeton arrived on the scene and immediately dressed Mr. Williams’ leg in special pants that prevented further bleeding he said. Princeton Medical Center doctors told Mr. Williams he “lost three quarts of blood and my blood pressure was 60 over zero when I arrived at the hospital,” Mr. Williams said.
A physical therapist visits Mr. Williams three days a week he said, but it will be summer before Mr. Williams can put full pressure on the leg, he said. Mr. Williams is using crutches to walk. He expects to purchase a wheelchair soon but is not entirely enthusiastic about his situation.
“This is the first time in my life I’m dependent on other people,” he said. “I’m as weak as a kitten and I’m a terrible patient,” he said. “I tire very quickly. Just to walk to the bathroom is an effort,” he said.
An engineer asked him to test the microphone which extended over the couch in easy reach of Mr. Williams. Several times during the evening engineers in the Franklin Township home have made audio checks with NBC studios in New York. Instructions from New York order Mr. Williams to make two commercials each one and a half minutes. He broadcast them without a script in an extemporaneous manner.
A pre-World War II Philco radio is on display in Mr. Williams’ living room near where he is sitting. The radio was a gift from NBC employees he said.
“Broadcasting is an avocation. I highly enjoy it,” he said.
Mr. Williams has been a broadcaster since 1975. The “Talknet” program, like his commercials, are broadcasted without a script and with little advance notice of the sujbect. During the program executive director Maurice Tunick holds up cue cards which list the town and the subject suggested by the telephone caller.
When Mr. Williams began his program Monday, he welcomed listeners from Albany, N.Y., and Zanesville, Ohio, to “spin a dream or two.” He told his listeners “I’m very pleased to be with you.”
One of the first questions asked of Mr. Williams by a caller Monday was about a career in medicine.
He began his answer. “I’m heavy on doctors after spending four weeks in the hospital,” and continued his free advice for the caller.
Occupying space on the front porch of the Williams home are boxes of greeting cards from listeners across the nation. Mr. Williams-said he will answer them all. Included in the boxes are “mass cards and everything,” he said. Receiving cards from people across the country was a “heavy experience.” he said.
Bruce Williams on the air at home.
(Rich Pipeling photo)