Comedian, actor, and radio personality Richard Belzer has passed away at the age of 78. I saw the news on Lorraine Newman's Twitter feed.

Belzer was best known for his role as the sarcastic, wisecracking TV detective, John Munch. It was a role that started on Homicide: Life on The Streets, Law and Order and Law and Order SVU. My memories of Belzer go much farther back. I was lucky enough to co-host the morning show with him for two weeks on WYSP in 1986.

I remember listening to Brinks and Belzer in 1979 when they did mornings on W-ennnnnnn-BC before Howard Stern arrived to do afternoons. When Stern came to Philadelphia in 1986, I was tapped to provide local news, traffic, sports and weather updates during the breaks.

(left to right) Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer, and Dann Florek (Photo: Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images)
Law and Order: SVU cast members in 2013 (left to right) Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer, and Dann Florek (Photo: Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images)

When it came time for Howard to take a break during the holidays, since we were the first station to take him, and since he had only been on since September, there was no "Best of Stern". So instead, they brought in Richard Belzer, and he and I co-hosted those two weeks.

Belzer was not only compelling and funny on the radio, but a great guy off the air as well. I was going through some rough times, and many a morning was spent talking over breakfast at the Adams Mark Hotel, which no longer exists. He was so thoughtful, he listened. A few years later, when he came back to the station to promote a show at the Theatre of the Living Arts, he not only remembered me but most of what we had talked about.

As for that show, afterward, we went out looking for a bite to eat on South Street. By the time we walked from the theatre to the Copa Banana, which was a short distance away, we must have had about 25 people following us just to talk to Belzer.

Richard Belzer (Photo: Richard Belzer, Getty Images)
Richard Belzer (Photo: Richard Belzer, Getty Images)

In 2004, when I got the job as house emcee at Catch A Rising Star in Princeton, I thought of when Belzer was the house emcee at the Catch in New York. I know I could never fill those shoes.

My best radio memory of Belzer came one morning while doing the local updates on Howard Stern. I'll never forget the morning when Howard had Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, and Richard Belzer all sitting on Robin's news. I remember thinking to myself, "if you had to compete with this on the radio, what could you possibly do?"

My best personal memory of Belzer is the kindness he showed over those breakfasts when we did those mornings. Salute, and rest in peace.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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