“Self-entitled jackasses” of the D.C. area, you can breathe easy: Bob Marbourg has left the WTOP Traffic Center, states a release from WTOP.
The release added that after 40 years, “it is time for me to say goodbye,” the guru of D.C.-area traffic wrote in an email to WTOP staff Wednesday morning.
Marbourg recalled that he got his start at WTOP as the result of a plane crash: WTOP reporter Steve Thompson and pilot Bernard Wicker were in a Cessna that ran out of fuel and landed in a tree in Vienna, Virginia. Both survived, but were seriously hurt. Marbourg got the call from WTOP and “reported from my dining room on a wired landline,” he said.
For the next 10 years, however, he reported on the traffic, undaunted, from another Cessna: “two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That was all there was of rush hour, then!”
“Bob has been a commuter’s best friend almost since the Beltway was built,” said Mike McMearty, WTOP’s director of news and programming. “From answering the phone to get listener tips, to his calling out officials doing road work during rush hours, to calling out motorists as ‘self-entitled jackasses’ for driving the wrong way on the shoulder, Bob has made it his mission to make sure everyone in our area made it to work safely and got home for dinner safely.”
Rush hour is a lot more than two hours in the morning and afternoon nowadays, and that’s just on normal days. Several WTOP reporters and editors said Marbourg shined even more on the days when the unexpected happened.
Digital Editor Colleen Kelleher immediately remembered an incident where a man stood on the Wilson Bridge, threatening to jump off, on a Wednesday afternoon in November 1998. Traffic all across the region was backed up for 20 miles.
Dave Dildine worked alongside Marbourg in the Traffic Center for nearly 10 years and said, “I have a lot to be thankful for, because of everything he’s taught me over the years.”
“Anyone who has battled with the region’s traffic jams over the decades has him to thank, because they have his voice on WTOP in their toolkit,” Dildine said.