BRATTLEBORO -- Fans of early morning radio woke up to a new voice this morning.
And for Kelli Corbeil, owner of WTSA, it was the sound of an old friend, coming through to lend a hand.
For only the third time in 15 years, longtime early morning radio personality Tim Johnson sat beside a new co-host when Steve Cormier joined him for the 6-10 a.m. show on WTSA 96.7 fm.
Cormier is taking over for Ian Kelley, who will be moving over to the afternoon slot.
Cormier, who is also assuming the position of station manager, has more than 30 years of experience in Vermont radio.
But his role at the station extends beyond directing the departments and working with Johnson for four hours every morning as Windham County and Southwestern New Hampshire wake up.
Cormier said he made the move to Brattleboro to repay his old friend, Bill Corbeil, who died on April 21, 2009, and to help his widow, Kelli.
"I'm here to make this station better, every day," he said. "This station serves the community. It reminds what radio used to be."
Even before Bill Corbeil died, Kelli said the couple wanted their old friend, Cormier, to come help them run the Brattleboro station.
The last of Cormier's three boys was still living with him and his wife in the Burlington area, and he was working at a Burlington station.
After his son moved out, and the couple got a reasonable offer on their home Cormier said it was time to
Cormier first met Bill Corbeil when Corbeil worked as an intern at WIZN in Burlington while attending the University of Vermont.
The two became fast friends and through the years remained close.
Cormier worked at stations in the Burlington area, and watched with pride as his old friend, and his wife, purchased WTSA in 2007.
He gave advice and helped Corbeil until he began his battle with cancer, which he eventually lost less than two years later.
Kelli Corbeil said she extended an open invitation to Cormier to come down to Brattleboro when he was ready, and with his sons out of the house, it was time to come down and help his friend.
In an interview this week, Corbeil and Cormier made it clear that Cormier was not coming to WTSA to help save it.
The station is strong, they both said, and Cormier said after three decades in radio he wanted to be part of a station that reflected the community it served.
Cormier said the local ownership, Johnson's long standing dedication to covering Windham County news and sports, and the connection that WTSA has with its advertisers were all reasons for him to make the move.
Johnson has been behind a microphone in southern Vermont for almost 40 years, 15 of those at WTSA, and he said the connection with Cormier has already been strong.
Listeners, Johnson said, should look forward to the same news, music and programming that they have come to expect.
"I think it's going to be seamless," said Johnson. "Part of the excitement of radio is in flying by the seat of your pants and we are already building a good relationship."
"It's show business," Cormier adds. "We want to give people information they need to start their day and we want to have fun while we do it."
Kelli Corbeil said she has been waiting for this day.
"Steve is a part of our family," she said. "We always talked about him coming down to be a part of our team but the timing was not right. Now it has worked out and it feels really good to have him here."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.