Born: March 25; 1920, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: March 6, 1992, St. Louis, Missouri
General Manager: KMOX Radio (1955 – 1992)
Born in St. Louis in 1920, Robert F. Hyland, Jr. had an early love of baseball and played outfield for St. Louis University High School, and then for St. Louis University. Son of the famed St. Louis Cardinals team physician, Dr. Robert F. Hyland, Sr., the younger Hyland grew up around the Gas House Gang at Sportsman’s Park and was expected to follow his father’s footsteps into medicine. But that didn’t happen.
A pioneer in sports medicine, Dr. Hyland was lauded by Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the “Surgeon General of Baseball.” While Hyland, Jr. admired his father’s accomplishments, he also had a weak stomach when it came to medicine, so he chose another path. Hyland Jr. considered an acting career and even professional baseball, but ultimately, the younger Hyland decided that his future was in broadcasting. His baseball and sports roots would continue to play a large role throughout his long and storied career.
Hyland’s St. Louis radio career began in 1945 at KXOK, where he worked in advertising sales. He was hired by CBS Radio in 1950 and sent to WBBM in Chicago, returning to St. Louis less than two years later to work at KMOX. He rose from his first job as national sales manager to general sales manager to assistant general manager in two years.
In 1955 Hyland became KMOX general manager, a position he held until his death in 1992. Hyland developed KMOX into the “Sports Voice of St. Louis,” with play-by-play for the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Football Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and University of Missouri football and basketball.
Under Hyland’s leadership, in 1960, KMOX became the first major radio station to adopt an all-talk format, named “At Your Service.” The original “social media,” Hyland’s vision of inviting politicians and other experts to interact with listeners has since been adopted by some 2,000 radio stations around the world.
Mr. Hyland was the only radio executive at CBS to be named a senior vice president. He was offered the presidency of CBS Sports and of the CBS Radio Network, but turned them down to remain in St. Louis. CBS founder William Paley said that KMOX, under Hyland, is “The jewel in CBS’s crown.”
Hyland’s duties extended past the radio station. He was a civic leader who was president of the St. Louis Zoo Commission and board chairman of St. Anthony’s Medical Center, Lindenwood University, and the Muny, and was a founding member of the organization responsible for the building of the Gateway Arch. In a 2014 column, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Columnist Bill McClellan listed Hyland among the region’s “Titans of business” and “adult leaders.”
The Wall Street Journal called Hyland one of the nation’s most notorious workaholics. He arrived for work at KMOX long before sunrise, six days a week and often called the station from home when he heard something on air that could be improved.
Shortly after Hyland’s death in 1992, Post-Dispatch Columnist Bob Broeg called Hyland a “…remarkable workaholic whose hands-on efforts touched so many people, places and things. In the decathlon of life – arts, entertainment, information, public service, sports, etc. – Robert Francis Hyland finished first among movers and shakers.”