Nassau Broadcasting Company founder Herb Hobler dies at 96

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Herbert Windsor Hobler died Aug. 10 at Stonebridge at Montgomery in Skillman. He was 96.

Born in St. Louis in 1922, he was raised In Bronxville, New York and Stamford, Conn. His family moved to Princeton in 1941 when he was a student. After graduating from the Hill School, he entered Princeton University in the class of 1944, and played on the basketball and track teams. As an alumnus, he served as class secretary for many years, and was president of the class for five years. A dedicated Princeton Tiger to the end, Herb showed his stripes when he attended his 75th Princeton reunion this year. It was his 73rd reunion in a row.  A trustee candidate of Princeton University in 1969, he was honored in 2003 with the Princeton Alumni Service Award. He chaired many of the class of 1944 reunions, and likely also saw more Princeton basketball games (over 870) over 70 years than anyone else, in large part by being the color man on the WHWH radio broadcasts over a period of 18 years.

During World War II, he was an Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) navigator on a B-29 flying missions over Japan. In 1986, he was president of the 9thBomb Group Association, and served in that role for 14 years. A commuter to New York for 18 years, Herb was first in programming at Mutual Broadcasting Company, then joined the NBC-TV network the day it started in December 1949, where he sold his first spot on the “Today” and “Show of Shows”.  After two years with the CBS network, he joined the start-up company Teleprompter for five years, helping to pioneer their prompting system. For four years he was head of production at Videotape Productions in New York City, where he supervised thousands of TV commercials and shows. After founding the Nassau Broadcast Company, he put WHWH Radio on the air in 1963. The station provided extensive community programming. A year later he bought WTOA-FM from the Times of Trenton, changing the call letters to WPST. As principal owner and chairman of Nassau Broadcasting Company, he also started six cable companies. He sold the Nassau Broadcasting Company in 1986.

In 1975, Herb was named national broadcaster of the year with the Abe Lincoln Award for editorializing about government broadcasting restrictions. As a result, he served four years on the National Association of Broadcasters Board, where he chaired the First Amendment Committee. Locally, he served on the boards of the YMCA, the Hun School, the United Fund, Princeton Savings and Loan, the Nassau Club and Tiger Inn. He was a member of the Springdale Golf Club, a past active elder in the Nassau Presbyterian Church, a Paul Harris Rotary Fellow, and chairman of Princeton Township’s 150th anniversary. Herb was honored as Princeton’s Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and was a recipient of the United Fund Lambert Award. In Princeton, he was also a co-founder of Concerned Citizens of Princeton, and in 1999, created the 20th Century Brick Walk in Palmer Square. He also helped create “the Spirit of Princeton,” a fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, of which he was a co-founder. Due to his fundraising, The fund was able to bring back the annual Princeton Memorial Day Parade.  At the Nassau Club, he was chairman of the speaker program for many years, and was responsible for bringing more than 1,000 speakers to the club’s weekly luncheons.    

One of Herb’s great passions was the American Boychoir School.  After becoming a board member In 1974, he was responsible for suggesting a name change to the school. Serving as chairman of the board for 22 years, Herb worked tirelessly on behalf of the boychoir, helping the school achieve national recognition for their academic and vocal excellence.

He is survived by his four children: Randolph of Norwalk, Conn., Debbie of Santa Barbara, Calif., Nancy of Germantown, Md. and Mary Hyson of Cheshire, Conn. He leaves behind six grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. His wife of 73 years, Mary “Randy” Hobler, died in 2017. His parents were the late Atherton Hobler and Ruth Hobler of Princeton, and he was predeceased by his brothers, Edward and Wells, and sister, Virginia.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Princeton Area Community Foundation or a local charity in his name.

A memorial service will be announced at a future date.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

4 Comments

  1. The Members and Staff of the Princeton Club of New York offer our condolences to the family of Herb – an amazing man, a wonderful life.

  2. I interviewed him , about his life, for Princeton TV. He was a vital member of the planet and his legacy will live on!

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