Robert C. Lape, ’55, 2022 Professional Achievement Award Recipient
“My Kent State education did far more than help in my career. It made not only my career, it made my life.”
Robert C. “Bob” Lape, ’55, has had a career of excellence in performance and leadership spanning 70 years. He met his professional destiny when working for WKSU and earning his undergraduate degree in radio speech and journalism.
“As a freshman, I crossed paths with the legendary speech professor Bob Stockdale and a host of other inspiring instructors in both radio speech and journalism, and I loved the process,” Bob said. “All of them endowed me beyond measure.”
While still a student, he began professional work at WHKK and WCUE in Akron, Ohio, before becoming news director of WICE in Providence, Rhode Island. There he created one of the earliest phone-in talk shows, “State Your Point,” as well as regular news segments on conservation and the arts with local talent.
In 1961, he moved to Westinghouse Broadcasting Station WBZ in Boston, beginning a seven-year climb through the ranks of the New England giant. He covered the State House, city hall and police beats during President Kennedy’s era.
“My biggest achievement was serving my audiences honestly, well and with something extra in every assignment. I did it with speed when I could, clarity, decency and good humor always,” Bob said.
His career was filled with incredible experiences and well-deserved recognition. He walked the streets of Roxbury with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and stood mere feet from him during the famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. He covered The Great Northeast Blackout when WBZ was the only voice in the entire region and earned not only one of the largest audiences in American history, but also a Congressional Citation of Honor for its performance.
“Where he goes, he makes friends, asks questions and raises issues with those that can make a difference. More than that, he wants to help people like you and me,” daughter Debra Lape said. “He wants to know what motivates us. He wants to help all of us reach our dreams. He is the embodiment of what a thoughtful and inquiring mind can bring to this life.”
After his time in radio, Bob moved to television. First at WBZ-TV, then as a founding member of WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News in New York. He covered politics, crime, the arts and created a table-setting feature called “The Eyewitness News Gourmet.”
He thought it would be a one-off, but it proved a trailblazing hit and aired 1,500 times in 12 years. ABC-TV executives called it the most popular local news feature in the United States and ordered clones made for every ABC-TV owned television station nationwide.
Bob’s success as “The Eyewitness Gourmet” led to lengthy stints as a culinary and lifestyle reporter, critic and commentator on various media. This included 24 years of weekly reviews for Crain's New York Business and nearly 30 years of daily episodes of “Bob Lape’s Dining Diary” on WCBS Newsradio 880.
In tandem, he also served as media critic for Entertainment Tonight, food critic for the TODAY Show and anchor of Japan Today on USA Cable Network.
He wrote restaurant review collections including the Gault Millau USA Guide, Epicurean Rendezvous, Bell’s Guide and Bob Lape’s Restaurant Index, and found time to co-author “Seduced by Bacon,” a cookbook.
“The greatest result of my career is happiness, a sensational family, a world of friends and the unquenchable desire to keep on sharing stories,” Bob said.