Journalist and author Bob Andelman, a longtime presence in St. Petersburg media, died Monday after a short battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 59.
A former music and culture writer for the Tampa Bay Times (when it was called the St. Petersburg Times) and the now-defunct Tampa Tribune, Andelman also covered area music for Tampa Bay Weekly, Pulse and Players. His byline appeared in Newsweek and Business Week.
He was the author or co-author of 16 books spanning a range of topics including sports, business, entertainment and even self-help.
His biography Will Eisner: A Spirited Life was translated into Spanish and Italian.
Andelman was known internationally for his Mr. Media interviews with writers, musicians, celebrities and others from the world of entertainment and popular culture. He began the Mr. Media website in 1995; the podcast – with more than 900 recorded interviews – launched in 2007.
The native of North Brunswick, New Jersey moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1982, after his graduation from the University of Florida.
In a 2018 St. Pete Catalyst interview, Andelman reflected on the circuitous route that led to his first book, 1993’s Stadium For Rent: Tampa Bay’s Quest for Major League Baseball. “I started with a story I did for the Tampa Bay Business Journal, about a campaign to sell tickets for a team that didn’t exist, for a stadium that hadn’t been built yet, and someone said ‘You should do a book about this – ‘cause we’re going to get a team.’ I thought well, yeah, OK, I’ll do a book, but I didn’t really see that it was going to be a career.
“But once you have a book, people say ‘He can stay focused long enough to do 300 pages,’ that leads to another one. And the business books fell into place with that. But I got very lucky.”
Stadium for Rent opened the door to a lucrative second career as a co-writer, working with successful businessmen to tell their stories in book form. Written with Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison, The Profit Zone: Lessons of Strategic Genius from the People Who Created the World’s Most Valued Companies, sold more than 100,000 copies.
Andelman also co-authored The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience with Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel, Mean Business: How I Save Bad Companies and Make Good Companies Great with Albert J. “Chainsaw” Dunlap, Building Atlanta: How I Broke Through Segregation to Launch a Business Empire (with Herman J. Russell), and Fans Not Customers (with Metro Bank UK and Commerce Bank US founder Vernon W. Hill II).
He admitted to the Catalyst he didn’t know much about business, at first. “If you’re a writer,” Andelman said, “I believe you should be able to write about anything. You should be like a sponge.”
He quickly learned how to apply his journalism training, and his natural curiosity, to the subjects at hand. “I just asked a lot of questions. The key, to me, became ‘just how do I make this interesting to everybody?’ I just look for the color, and the stuff that would make me stop and go ‘Oh – that’s interesting. I’ll write about that part of it.’”
He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Tampa Bay Times news editor Mimi Andelman, and their son Charlie.
“His No. 1 job, however, was as a husband and dad who was there for us every day, more than you can know,” Mimi Andelman wrote in a Facebook post today. “Bob was the most generous, loving person I’ve ever known. If you knew Bob, chances are you know that too. His kind spirit extended through family, colleagues and folks in the publishing and comics industries.
“I’m at a loss for words and cannot really truly convey how much Bob meant to us all. As Bob and I talked in his last weeks, knowing his days were short, he wanted everyone to know this: “I’ve been the luckiest guy in life, and loved every minute of it.” I think a lot of that is because of all the love he got in return.”