Longtime Tampa area radio executive Dave "Rhino" Reinhart died Sunday
But radio veterans in the Tampa Bay area and across the country are memorializing former Clear Channel Radio executive Dave "Rhino" Reinhart as a well-liked, evenhanded disc jockey-turned-manager, who remained approachable even after becoming one of the most powerful media executives in the Tampa Bay area.
Reinhart, 67, died Sunday at the Villages retirement community after a long battle with muscular system atrophy -- a degenerative neurological disorder which causes symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. He had retired in 2005 as Clear Channel's regional vice president for the west coast of Florida, managing the eight stations the company owned in the Tampa Bay area market.
Friends have written long tributes to Reinhart on a Facebook tribute page: "When I was in some of the darkest hours in my life Dave always had inspirational words... of hope for me," wrote Schnitt's former partner B.J. Harris, who last year admitted a past struggle with substance abuse. "He really believed in me and for that I will always be grateful."
Born David Carter Reinhart in Cincinnati, he started working in radio in 1961 as a part-time disc jockey while still a student at Ohio University eventually earning a full-time job at Cincinnati's WSAI-AM. But in 1967, he took an 18-year break to work as a stockbroker.
In the late 1980s he returned to the business, managing a talk station in Cincinnati before coming to Tampa in 1990 to run two stations then owned by Jacor communications, WFLA-AM and WFLZ-FM. When Jacor merged with Clear Channel, Reinhart rose in the company -- buoyed by a reputation for dealing well with the industry's over-sized egos and a buttoned-down integrity.
"Dave is such a Boy Scout that he may be the only radio guy I know of that I can't give an unprintable anecdote about," Randy Michaels, former head of Jacor and later Clear Channel, told the St. Petersburg Times in a 2000 story. "He's a guy you trust your wallet with or anything else."
Reinhart is survived by his wife Joan; two sons, Steve Reinhart and Scott Reinhart; and three grandsons.The funeral home handling service arrangements also has an online tribute; a memorial is scheduled at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, The Villages, FL. 352-753-8353.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Church Street Station, and P. O. Box 780, New York, NY 10008-0780.
Photos courtesy of Reinhart's Facebook page. Times researchers Will Gorham and Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.