Blast from Your Past - Book 1, Excerpt 2: DJ Dr. Don Rose

BFYP-FM is helpin’ you rise ‘n’ shine! We see the big ol’ sun peeking over the hill, playing hide an’ seek with fluffy clouds … it’s so bea-u-ti-ful. But wait, wait … ‘Hey, hey you! Get offa my cloud!’
“This is your old fuddy-duddy buddy, Dr. Don at the yawn of a new day!” (A DDR oft-repeated wake-up greeting.)

Dr. Don Rose (a.k.a. Donald Rosenberg)
Best known at KFRC/San Francisco, California
1934 ~ 2005 (Interview with son, Jay Rosenberg.)

While Jeff Prescott’s dad, Norm [coming up in another excerpt], carved out his platter-spinning niche in Boston, another kid in Philly cocked his head quizzically at his dad’s voice coaxing him awake.
“My earliest memory was of listening to him from a clock radio next to my bed,” said Jay Rosenberg, “and wondering how he got inside the box. My mom kind of explained how it worked. But I don’t think I got it.”
Jay recalls this fond memory of his dad, Donald Rosenberg. Before all was said and done, Donald became endeared to thousands of fans on both sides of the country as “Dr. Don Rose.”
45s were just replacing 33-1/3 vinyls!
Don Rose’s radio star was already on the rise before Jay, the second youngest of five Rosenberg siblings, marveled at his dad’s voice bouncing out from the radio.
Beginning around 1955, Don began his climb up the radio industry’s lofty ladder; although at the time, he thought it was merely a bottom rung of support toward a staid and stuffy corporate career.
Toiling away in accounting classes at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he spent his spare time in the college’s radio station, KNUS. According to his bio on the Broadcast Pioneers site, “Don always said that no one but him noticed that the call letters spelled backwards were SUNK.”
It wasn’t long until he wanted more radio, and began sprinting out to the tiny town of Beatrice, for a different kind of education, at KWBE.
Though still thinking he would crunch numbers for a living, he soon moved up to a Lincoln station. But this is one of those “fuzzy” memories …
Jay certainly wasn’t around then, so he couldn’t confirm the Internet reports that his dad worked at “KLMN,” as many Don Rose bios mention. After an hour of research without success, admittedly, I was all set to perpetuate the myth when DJ Ken Chase (a.k.a. Mike Korgan) spotted the anomaly and wrote, “I know it is on his Wikipedia page but that does not always mean it’s correct.”
So true, Mike! Likely prospects are KLIN or KLMS. If anyone has the real scoop, let me know!
Back at the ranch … Don didn’t stay “wherever” long; he soon received an offer he couldn’t refuse.
KOIL in Omaha waved a fancy banner and Don skipped out on college in his senior year. I’d love to tell you that was the beginning of his fairytale life in radio. But … not unusual for radio, he was fired four weeks later.
By that time though, Don was hooked. Fairytale or not, radio would be his life. As the story goes, during his short-lived tenure at KOIL, it was program director Chick Crabtree, who noticed his initials were “DR” and dubbed him “Dr. Don.”
Through the late 1950s, Dr. Don’s comfortable connection with his listeners carried him through KTSA (San Antonio, Texas), KRNY (Kearney, Nebraska,) KTUL, (Tulsa, Oklahoma), and K-WMT (Fort Dodge, Iowa). Do you remember his infectious laugh and vaudeville-style one-liners? Check out DJ Terrell Metheny’s account of the affable Don at KTUL in 1958. [Page 93, print edition.]
Like the others, the Fort Dodge gig wasn’t lengthy, but proved to be a fortuitous adventure. It was there Dr. Don met and married Kae, who proved to be his biggest fan in marriage for forty-five zany years.
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K-WMT also provided the props that eventually drew the listeners who would help propel Dr. Don through to radio stardom. Cowbells and a myriad of moos punctuated his corny jokes that became the trademark of Dr. Don Rose, and endeared him to the heartland. “Let’s get down on all fours and listen from the boss’s point of view.” Heehee.
Dr. Don has been watching the antics and evolution of radio from Rock & Roll Radio Heaven since 2005. But Jay offered many insights and a poignant few stories about his ever-smiling dad. “He was so honest on the air that it came through, and people felt like they knew him – they definitely got a piece of him.”
Jay’s memories beyond Dr. Don’s voice squawking funny stuff from his clock radio, fade back in around the late Sixties and early Seventies; though I’m sure I can find a story or two from colleagues to fill in some gaps.
And look for a few comments by yours truly in The Swinging Sixties (on Amazon) and coming soon, The Psychedelic Seventies (writing in progress). In the Sixties, DDR honed his style behind the mic, up and down the East Coast. By the '70s book, you'll learn he settled at KFRC/San Francisco, California, around 1973-‘79, when we had the wild-’n’-crazy Dr. Don Rose all to ourselves. Think hippies, love beads, and … Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, baby!