A History Note by By Marjorie Newton, Contra Costa County History Center
Dr. Donald D. Rose
A History Note
By Marjorie Newton
During the 1970s and ‘80s, the morning radio show most listened to was hosted by the personality known as Dr. Donald D. Rose. Donald Duane Rosenberg was born in North Platte, Nebraska. He began his broadcasting career by reporting on his trip to the 1950 Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge on his local station. Before reaching the West Coast, he had worked in Omaha, San Antonio, Tulsa, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Duluth, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.
In San Francisco, when Rose anchored the morning show at KFRC, it was named Station of the Year four times while Rose was on the air. He was named Disc Jockey of the Year by Billboardmagazine, first on the East Coast while in Philadelphia and later on the West Coast while at KFRC. "He showed that you didn't have to be hip and edgy, sarcastic and shocking, to make it big in major market radio," said Ben Fong Torres, the San Francisco Chronicle'sradio columnist and author of The Hits Just Keep On Coming: The History Of Top 40 Radio."He was the corniest vaudeville comic posing as a Top 40 DJ, and with his gift for radio performance, he made it work.”In the Contra Costa Timesarticle on his retirement in 1991, he was aptly described, as “a Spike Jones of the airwaves, with a closet full of sound effects, imaginary friends, and cornball jokes.”
FM radio broadcasting led to the demise of AM radio disc jockeys. In 1986, Dr. Don moved to KKIS, Concord-Walnut Creek. After failing an attempt to buy the station, he moved to K101, where he suffered a heart attack while broadcasting his show. Rose died from complications due to pneumonia. He was married for 45 years, and he and his wife, Kae, raised five children, David, Kelly, Dan, Jay, and John, and were rewarded with 13 grandchildren.
During his lifetime, Dr. Don used his fame to raise money for charities. He hosted the March of Dimes Superwalk for over 20 years, raising over 10 million dollars. He hosted golf tournaments that benefitted Special Olympics and special education. In his obituary on 4/1/2005 in the Contra Costa Times,donations were requested for the Boy Scouts of America, March of Dimes, and the Special Olympics. Dr. Rose was among the first group to be inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006.
Today, morning radio is talk, talk, talk. Dr. Don, your humor and the joy you gave your listeners is greatly missed but fondly remembered. Find excerpts of Dr. Don’s work on U-tube and at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Dr-Don-Rose-king-of-KFRC-radio-in-70s-2718849.php
A History Note is presented by the Contra Costa County History Center, 724 Escobar St., Martinez. Open hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 9-4, and third Saturdays, from 10-2. Visit www.cocohistory.org