For more than 40 years, disc jockey Gary Peters enlivened drive time for thousands of Connecticut listeners -- once even taking his radio show airborne aboard his colleague Morgan Kaolian's airplane.
"He always wanted to try new things," said Kaolian, who worked with Peters at radio station WICC in Bridgeport. "His innovative techniques made him a terrific program director."
Peters, whose real name was Gary Almeida, died Thursday in Bridgeport Hospital following a lengthy battle with emphysema and while awaiting a lung transplant. He was 64 and lived with his wife, Susan in Stratford.
Arrangements are being handled by the Dennis and D'Arcy Funeral Home, 2611 Main St., Stratford.
Peters worked at a number of area radio stations, including WEZN in Bridgeport, WDRC in Hartford, WATR in Waterbury, Kool 96.7 in Stamford and CD 101.9 in New York. Most recently he owned Gary Peters Music and Media.
"He was a programers' programmer," said Leonard Kerr, a longtime friend and colleague from Trumbull. "He basically rescued WICC."
"Big" Al Warren remembers the November 1976 day Peters joined WICC as the program director.
"He brought in boxes of color-coded music based on style," said Warren, a Milford resident. "He had a great ear for music, picking hits and balancing the play list."
"He loved radio," said Warren. "I remember when I was at WWCO in Waterbury in the 1960s and Gary was just a kid. He'd come and look at us through the window, so we'd invite him in to watch."
But Warren also remembers never seeing Peters without a cup of coffee and a cigarette, working from sun-rise to nighttime.
"I spoke with him not too long ago," said Warren. "He was very upbeat while waiting for the double lung transplant."
In addition to his wife, Peters is survived by a son, Brian, and daughters, Linda and Jessica.