VERO BEACH, Fla. - Local broadcast legend, author and Vero Beach Theatre Guild board member Neal Stannard was found dead late Saturday night, friends and co-workers said.
The 55-year-old afternoon news anchor at WTTB-AM 1490 had been involved in local broadcasting for 40 years, said Jim Davis, general manager for the Vero Beach-based station. Davis described Stannard as a jack-of-all-trades who could deliver the news behind the microphone and handle production, engineering and mixing behind the scenes.
"Neal had credibility," Davis said. "He was well known and well respected. And he was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge when it came to radio."
Stannard was found slumped in the driver's seat of his car in the parking lot of TJ Maxx in the 400 block of 21st Street, Vero Beach, about 8:40 p.m. Saturday, according to a Vero Beach police report. An officer performed CPR on Stannard before paramedics arrived and took him to Indian River Medical Center, Indian River County Fire Rescue said. Police said he was pronounced dead at 9:16 p.m.
WTTB staff want to create a scholarship in Stannard's name for his other passion: drama. He took to the stage as the rabbi in the Theatre Guild's 2010 production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Davis said staff at the radio station came up with the scholarship idea Monday and were still working out the particulars.
"Neal was not only a fixture on the guild stage, he was an active volunteer and board member," according to a message on the Theatre Guild's Facebook page. "Anyone who met Neal was greeted with a wonderful personality and sharp wit."
In 2010, Stannard came out with his novel, "Now & Then, the Movies Get It Right," his examination of 12 classic films, the actors who starred in them and how their personal lives impacted how they chose their roles, said Linda Schiffer of Casselberry, who helped Stannard publicize the book.
Stannard also reviewed movies for the weekly publication, "Vero's Voice."