Radio station owner found dead

Early edition: The family of Carl Marcocci believes the 68-year-old may have had a heart attack.

By Jonathan Abel
Published December 23, 2006

SPRING HILL — Carl Marcocci, 68, the owner of four Tampa Bay radio stations, died from an apparent heart attack Thursday night.

The Clearwater businessman was leaving the Outback Steakhouse on U.S. 19 in Hernando County, when his car crashed through a fence and struck a building next door. The burglar alarm went off about 7:20 p.m., but nobody found his body until the next morning when employees of the business came to work.

Marcocci was the CEO and controlling owner of the company that runs Palm Harbor-based WJQB 106.3 FM, Citrus’ WXCV 95.3 FM and WINV 1560 AM, and Yankeetown’s WXOF 96.3 FM.

On Thursday, he was at the Spring Hill restaurant meeting with his Citrus station managers to give out bonus checks, according to business partner Steve Schurdell. He didn’t come home, which worried his family.

“He would never not call my mother,” said daughter Sharon Moffatt. “So it was a very upsetting and stressful night until they got the news.”

Marcocci’s body was found the next morning in his Mercedes coupe.

Trooper Larry Coggins Jr. of the Florida Highway Patrol said the cause of death was unclear and an autopsy will be performed, but the impact of the crash was not severe enough to have killed Marcocci. The FHP, he said, was leaning toward some type of medical condition.

Sharon Moffatt said Saturday that the family believes her father died of a heart attack, possibly induced by the anguish of his son’s death earlier this year and her own ongoing struggle with cancer.

“He didn’t really have heart problems. He just was stressed out and very upset,” she said. “He had a lot to be concerned about.”

Radio was always a big part of Marcocci’s life. He started off as a disc jockey in Pittsburgh and bounced around to different cities working in the business, even serving a stint in Korea working for military radio.

He married Betty Lou Henderson, in 1962, but they had to keep their marriage secret, Moffatt said, because Betty Lou was a flight attendant for United Airlines and in those days, they weren’t allowed to be married.

In the 1970s, Marcocci bought a station in Clearwater and started to accumulate a small radio empire, not only in Tampa Bay but also in Punta Gorda, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody in 25 years in the business that loved broadcasting the way Carl did,” said Schurdell, his business partner. “He loved his family first but after that it was broadcasting.”

In his later years, Schurdell said, Marcocci was heavily involved in strategic planning for the radio company and was thinking up a way to make WINV 1560 AM into the spot on the dial for newstalk and information in Citrus.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Lou Marcocci, daughter Sharon Moffatt, son Russell Marcocci, and sister Lucy Jane Clement as well as uncle, Louis Coccoli.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.