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
Star of Salty Brine's Shack!
profiled on PM Magazine
Click Here To Listen To A Salty Sound Bite!
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
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.
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
Mr. Brine and wife Mickey have
one son, Walter Brine Jr., who is a radio personality on WROR-FM in
Salty Brine at his 85th
Walter ''Salty'' Brine died
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
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
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
You remember when they used to show all the Disney films at the
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
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
You remember when WPRI was WPRO.
You remember neighborhood bakeries and all the great pastries they
carried: lemon squares, New Yorkers, cornets, zeppoles, and
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
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
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
You remember Warwick Shopper's World, Niantic Mills, and the Ben
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
cents, popsicles a nickel, and penny candy--for a penny!
You remember going to Stamp's Farm for eggs and Highland Orchards
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
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