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Beyond the Office: Brown finds interest in science and music

Rob Brown is seen in his “ham shack” getting ready for some long distance communication via his ham radio. Courtesy Rob Brown

Rob Brown is seen in his “ham shack” getting ready for some long distance communication via his ham radio. Courtesy Rob Brown

K8NLV.

A few of you may recognize those numbers as a ham radio operator call sign. But whose call sign? That would be Rob Brown, founding partner of Schatz Brown Glassman Kossow LLP.

Brown has secured transmissions from Australia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and all corners of the United States in his “ham shack” — what he calls his amateur radio space. But radio signals and equipment are just one of his multiple hobbies centered around science and music.

Brown enjoys singing, plays baritone in the Eastman School’s New Horizon’s program, has flown his own plane and is fascinated by the concept of time.

Legal community

Brown is celebrating two years with his latest law career adventure in ESOP Plus, also known as the boutique law firm of Schatz Brown Glassman Kossow LLP. With offices on Mill Street in Rochester, and in West Hartford, Conn., this national practice focuses on Employee Stock Ownership Plans and advises clients on exiting business ventures while protecting their wealth, legacy and core philosophy.

“It’s really a virtual office,” Brown said. “Most meetings are at client locations and our technology allows us to work from multiple locations.”

Brown joked that it’s good to start a new venture every 40 years or so, referring to his early career split from Harter Secrest, when several from the “Class of 1970” put together a new firm, known for many years as Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson LLP (now Boylan Code).

He’s a member of the Monroe County Bar Association and he has chaired and served on many committees and in related official roles. For many years he has been in the New York State Bar Association Tax Section Executive Committee, the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and many community boards.

Getting to Rochester

Brown was born in Cleveland. He studied Russian at Oberlin College, traveling to the Soviet Union twice during his undergraduate years, including a semester at the University of Moscow. After graduating cum laude in 1967, he furthered his education at Yale Law School.

Earning his LL.B 1970, he and his Avon, N.Y., bride Priscilla then settled in Rochester.

Playing the classic song, “Seventy-Six Trombones,” Rob Brown used his musical talents for the Geva Theatre production of The Music Man.Courtesy Rob Brown

Playing the classic song, “Seventy-Six Trombones,” Rob Brown used his musical talents for the Geva Theatre production of The Music Man.
Courtesy Rob Brown

“Priscilla actually wanted to move to Philadelphia, but I had a terrific job offer from Harter Secrest,” Brown recalled. “Rochester has a lot to offer and it was a great place to raise our kids.”

Priscilla Todd Brown studied oboe at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, after completing a preparatory degree at Eastman School of Music. She later earned a master’s degree in education from Nazareth College. She played with the Rochester Philharmonic, and played and toured with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops and the Bethlehem Bach Orchestra.

She directed the music program at East High School for nearly 20 years, and now directs one of the New Horizon bands for seniors who want to continue to play their musical instruments.

Ham radio

Brown got his first ham radio license in 1959, sharing his father’s interest in amateur radio.

“My dad built his own equipment,” Brown said. “That’s what many people love about the hobby — buying equipment that you can tweak to do the things you want. There’s a technological challenge. To get my original license I had to know Morse code.”

He prefers voice communications for the most part, and likes the long distance aspects of connecting to people around the globe.

“The other night, someone was on from Kuwait, and we had what’s called a pile up — too many people trying to connect with him at once,” he explained. “Timing skills are part of the puzzle, and grabbing the signal at the right moment can be an art.”

He said that the only real downside to the hobby is the possibility of electrocution since some of the equipment runs on very high voltage.

“You have to be able to take things apart, so you need to know what you are doing,” he said. “There’s something called the ‘chicken stick’ that is a key tool in making sure there are no electrical sparks when you delve into dismantling or reassembling equipment.” The “chicken stick” works as a grounding device.

The choir

Brown has been singing publicly since he was six years old, and has a great story about his first performance in a school play. The curtain caught fire while he was singing his solo, and he thought the commotion was all about him. He said he should have known right then that he was cut out for a legal career.

In college, he traveled with the Oberlin choir to the Soviet Union.

He has been a member of the Downtown United Presbyterian Church’s choir for about 40 years. He has also performed for local events and in plays.

The band

Starting out on trumpet, over the years Brown played a variety of brass instruments. Growing up in Ohio, any serious band member participated in marching band. Brown recalls high stepping on a muddy field with a sousaphone that was bigger than he was.

He has been refreshing his baritone skills since joining New Horizons at the Eastman School, w hich has given him various performance venues, including his role as part of the band in Geva Theatre’s presentation of “The Music Man” last season.

“It was a fun performance,” Brown said, acknowledging that memorizing a musical score is more difficult than it used to be.