Neil Rogers

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This article is about the radio broadcaster. For the Olympic swimmer, see Neil Rogers (swimmer).
Not to be confused with Nile Rodgers.
Neil Rogers
Neil Rogers and Cigar.jpg
Birth name Nelson Roger Behelfer
Born (1942-11-05)November 5, 1942
Rochester, New York
Died December 24, 2010(2010-12-24) (aged 68)
Broward County, Florida
Show The Neil Rogers Show
Station(s) 1230 AM WSTR, Sturgis MI
1560 AM WTPS, Kalamazoo
1260 AM WALM, Albion MI
1540 AM WMRR, Marshall MI
1450 AM WSPB, Sarasota
1290 AM WJNO, West Palm Beach
1360 AM WKAT, Miami
1510 AM WLAC, Nashville
790 AM WNWS, Miami
940 AM WINZ, Miami
94.9 FM WZTA, Miami
610 AM WIOD, Miami
620 AM WSUN, St. Petersburg
1500 AM WKIZ, Key West**
560 WQAM, Miami
770 AM WJBX, Ft. Myers*
Channel 69, Miami
*Simulcast of WQAM
**Simulcast of WIOD
Time slot Monday-Friday
Style Talk show host
Country United States
Website neilrogers.org

Neil Rogers (November 5, 1942 – December 24, 2010) was an American talk radio personality. Until his retirement on June 22, 2009, "The Neil Rogers Show" aired weekdays from 10am-2pm on 560 WQAM. It was consistently the top rated show in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale media market and had been since his Miami debut in 1976. Although he was not syndicated nationally or even regionally, Talkers magazine, the trade publication of talk radio, ranked Rogers at Number 15 on its 2006 list of the 100 most important personalities in the business.[1] Rogers died at the age of 68 at the Vitas Hospice at Florida Medical Center in Broward County, Florida.[2]

Career[edit]

Rogers was born Nelson Roger Behelfer in Rochester, New York. Growing up there, he amused himself by announcing his own play-by-play while watching baseball on television. Years later he would do play-by-play for Miami Hurricanes baseball (1978-1982 on radio and 1983 on TV).[3] In 1966 Rogers broadcast high school basketball in Marshall, Michigan at WMRR.[4][5] His first job in radio was as a music disc jockey at a small station, WCGR, in Canandaigua, New York. He studied broadcasting at Michigan State University, but left shortly before he would have graduated to pursue his radio career. While in Michigan, Rogers broadcast football and basketball games for Albion College.[6]

Over the next decade, Rogers worked at several stations in several states, including New York, Michigan, and Florida. In 1968, Rogers was program director for WTPS, which had a Hot 100 format serving Kalamazoo, Michigan.[7] Neil also worked at WSTR in Sturgis, Michigan.[8] Later he ended up at WJNO AM in West Palm Beach starting in 1975, moving from WSPB 1450 AM in Sarasota where he started in Florida in 1973.[9] Rogers subsequently lost his job in West Palm Beach and was headed to Yuma, Arizona when he called his mother from the road and learned that Miami-Ft. Lauderdale's WKAT (AM 1360) had offered him a job without application or audition. Rogers turned his car around and headed for Miami, debuting on WKAT on March 1, 1976. Rogers worked the 3 PM - 6 PM at WKAT for $225 a week.[10] Prior to working for WKAT, Rogers worked two weekend shifts at WIOD, which was playing music at that time.[11] By the end of 1976, he was one of the top-rated radio personalities in the market. Also while at WKAT, Neil owned a health food store in the San Souci area.[12]

Nine months later, when singer Anita Bryant began a crusade to repeal Dade County's ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals, Rogers responded by announcing on the air that he was homosexual on December 17, 1976.[13] Although Bryant's campaign to repeal the ordinance was successful, Rogers' admission did nothing to hurt his radio career; indeed, his ratings steadily increased with every Arbitron period. Richard Casper hired Rogers away from WKAT in April 1978 to work at WNWS.[14]

Starting on October 31, 1980, Neil Rogers did the 7-10 PM shift for WLAC in Nashville. He referred to the segment of his show with live calls as "Dialing for Neanderthals". He left WLAC after just one month. Neil accepted a job at WWDB in Philadelphia and had sent his furniture up there before Dick Casper convinced Rogers into coming back to WNWS.[15]

Rogers returned to Miami radio on December 1, 1980,[16] on WNWS 790 AM. By that time Rogers was unrivaled as the highest-rated talk-show host in Miami, dominating both the 18-24 and 25-54 demographics (the most coveted age ranges in the business). His style — unabashed liberal, scatological, and funny but acutely mean when dealing with callers (especially elderly callers), a schtick that may best be described as caustically comic—was firmly established, making Rogers something of an icon in the market.

Rogers moved to Miami's WINZ on March 1, 1984.[17] While doing mid-days on WINZ, his "Hallandale Vice" routine set the market and WINZ on fire. After years of agitating for an earlier time slot, WINZ's owner, Guy Gannett Publishing, moved him to mornings on co-owned WZTA (Zeta-4) on October 12, 1987. Although ratings in the morning were immediate, Roger's long simmering battle with station management boiled over, culminating with him moving to WIOD on November 7, 1988. From WIOD he was simulcast in the Tampa Bay market on WSUN from June 22, 1992 to 1994. Rogers' last show on WIOD was on May 21, 1997.[18] His last relocation was to 560 WQAM on December 30, 1997.[19] Regardless of his station, he was consistently the top rated personality in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market, prompting one Miami radio executive to call him "the most consistent performer among men 25-54 that this market has ever seen."[20]

In June 1998, WAMI-TV ran "Neil at Night", which was a 30 minute television show of the Neil Roger Show. "Neil at Night" aired twice a night at 8:30 PM and 10:30 PM.[21] "Neil at Night" was cancelled in January 1999.[22] Earlier in his career, Neil had a short lived television show on "Channel 51" WKID-TV that lasted a just a few episodes.

"Neil at Night"

ESPN reporter Shannon Spake served briefly as an intern for the The Neil Rogers Show in 1999.[23]

Rogers also has a devoted audience in Europe and around the world who listen via the Internet.

He has been targeted from time to time by local activists who find him offensive; one, Jack Thompson, a former Miami attorney, unsuccessfully sued Rogers and his employers to remove him from the air.[24] In 1989, the Hallandale City Commission voted to censure Neil Rogers for "offensive comments" that he had made about the elderly.[25] Rogers had survived all such attacks, and indeed, many of them have increased his popularity.

It was announced on April 14, 2008, that Rogers had agreed to a new 5-year contract on WQAM, which would have kept "Uncle Neil", as he was called by his fans, firmly on the air until 2013.

On the May 13, 2009, show it was announced but not confirmed that Rogers' longtime show producer and fill in host Jorge Rodriguez was being fired by WQAM in a cost-cutting measure. Rogers' contract includes the ability for him to choose his producer and no resolution was found by the end of the program even after Rogers called his agent on the air. Rodriguez's future with the show has been the topic of interest in the South Florida media including the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.[26] Rodriguez's firing was confirmed by Rogers at the start of the May 14, 2009 program.

Rodriguez' firing drew great response from Rogers' fans. Rodriguez later began "The Jorge Rodriguez Show" on SoFloRadio.com

Rodriguez was replaced by WQAM Deputy Program Director Lee "Flee" Feldman. Feldman stated that he is working on the Neil Rogers show without any increase in his salary.

It was announced on June 22, 2009, that Rogers and Beasley Broadcast Miami reached an agreement where Rogers will no longer be featured on air at WQAM, but would consult for the station under a new agreement. Rogers' last show was on Friday June 12, 2009. Neil Rogers had retired from on-air radio.[27]

Rogers, at age 68, had been suffering from several health ailments in the last months of his life. His friend and attorney Norm Kent says the radio host suffered a stroke and heart attack in October and his condition had been declining since Thanksgiving.[28] He died on December 24, 2010 at the age of 68.

In a Miami SunPost column eulogizing Rogers, Charles Branham-Bailey described his personality:

He could bite into you like a pit bull on the air, yet in his off-air persona, regard you with puppy dog gentility.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TALKERS MAGAZINE ONLINE". 
  2. ^ "Radio icon Neil Rogers dies at 68". miamiherald. 
  3. ^ caller asks Rogers about his baseball broadcasting for University of Miami on YouTube
  4. ^ At 8 minute mark Neil mentions broadcasting high school basketball on YouTube
  5. ^ October 16, 2008 show
  6. ^ Neil Rogers Show - September 15, 1998
  7. ^ Billboard Magazine, February 24, 1969
  8. ^ Neil mentions Sturgis station 98 minutes into show on YouTube
  9. ^ http://www.radioyears.com/other/details.cfm?id=776
  10. ^ NEIL ROGERS, MARKING 25 YEARS IN SOUTH FLORIDA RADIO TODAY, IS CONTRARY, ABRASIVE, INSULTING AND THE HIGHEST-RATED, HIGHEST-PAID PERSONALITY ON THE DIAL. Sun-Sentinel-March 1, 2001 by Tom Jicha
  11. ^ Neil Rogers Show - May 30, 1990 (55:39) on YouTube
  12. ^ Neil Rogers Show - November 15, 2000 (2:03:00) on YouTube
  13. ^ "Lakeland Ledger Dec 19, 1976". Flickr. 
  14. ^ Miami News - March 31, 1978 - Filling the gaps in Miami Radio after Richard Casper's raids
  15. ^ Neil Rogers Show Clip - Jack Thompson Accusation (October 1989) on YouTube
  16. ^ The Miami News December 1, 1980 Radio Schedule
  17. ^ Miami Herald - February 29, 1984 - 1D LOCAL ACERBIC RADIO STAR ALLOWED TO TAKE ACT TO OTHER STATION
  18. ^ Miami Herald - May 23, 1997 ROGERS SIGNS OFF AT WIOD WILL BE PAID TILL HE JOINS WQAM
  19. ^ Miami Herald - November 25, 1997 - 7D Sports BROADCAST NOTES
  20. ^ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:oWOAoE13dhQJ:www.broward.com/mld/miamiherald/living/people/13965964.htm%3Fsource%3Drss%26channel%3Dmiamiherald_people+%22Neil+Rogers%22+Canandaigua&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2
  21. ^ "Wami Blues". Sun Sentinel. 
  22. ^ "WAMI moving programs, shutters ‘Neil’". Variety. 
  23. ^ "Shannon Spake". 
  24. ^ "Brendastardom - Knows the expectations.". 
  25. ^ "Newspaper Archives - tampabay.com - Tampa Bay Times". 
  26. ^ Neil Rogers Show (May 13, 2009) on YouTube
  27. ^ "Neil Rogers' Show Is Over At Wqam". Sun Sentinel. 
  28. ^ "Radio Icon Neil Rogers To Undergo Heart Surgery". 
  29. ^ "Politics: Now That Neil’s Gone, Radio Won’t Be the Same". The SunPost. 

External links[edit]