Mike Whorf

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Mike Whorf
Born Michael Whorf
(1932-04-21) April 21, 1932 (age 84)
Brookline, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Radio Announcer, Radio Producer
Known for "Kaleidoscope"
Spouse(s) Barbara Ann Brown
Children Peter Whorf; Sarah Whorf; Jennifer Whorf; Susanna Whorf
  • John Whorf
  • Vivienne Wing
Relatives Benjamin Lee Whorf, uncle

Michael "Mike" Whorf (born April 21, 1932) is an American radio personality based in Detroit, Michigan. He was an announcer and program host on WJR from 1964 to 2003. Whorf was producer and host of the George Foster Peabody Award-winning documentary/narrative program Kaleidoscope,[1][2] a combination of storytelling, interview, historic recordings and music on a particular topic.

Early years and family history[edit]

Whorf was born in Brookline, Massachusetts and spent his childhood and teen years in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His father was internationally renowned watercolorist John Whorf.[3] Whorf's sisters Carol Whorf Westcott[4] and Nancy Whorf Kelly[5] were also Provincetown artists, and his brother John[6] was an established applied artist in Hingham. Whorf's son Peter Whorf has served as a program director at WNYC-FM. Whorf is nephew of linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf and nephew of actor and television director Richard Whorf.

Whorf graduated from Provincetown High School in 1950. Upon graduation, Whorf enlisted in the United States Air Force (USAF) where he served as a radio announcer and entertainer on the Armed Forces Network. His tour of duty included assignments at air bases in California, Texas and Morocco. He narrated short informational films, including one regarding the M65 Atomic Cannon produced by the USAF's Lookout Mountain Laboratory Air Charting and Photographic Services[7] in Hollywood.

Professional history[edit]

After his honorable discharge from the USAF, Whorf worked as an announcer at WOCB in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts and at WCOJ in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where he met and married his wife Barbara Ann Brown. He later developed the Kaleidoscope predecessor "Tempo" while on the air at WTAG in Worcester, Massachusetts. Whorf also worked briefly at WWL in New Orleans, Louisiana before returning to WTAG. Shortly after, he went on to WJR.

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, Whorf was part of a line-up of radio personalities known throughout the region including J. P. McCarthy, Karl Haas, Jimmy Launce and MLB Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell. Whorf's Kaleidoscope topics ranged from religion to politics, from the arts to sports. Some of Whorf's extended series included oral histories of Native American tribes and a collection of personal interviews with popular American song composers of the 1920s and 1930s entitled "The Bards of Tinpan Alley".

Whorf is himself a published composer. His 1979 Christmas song "The Man with a Hundred Names" muses on the many names by which Santa Claus is known worldwide.[8]

In 1970, Whorf formed the company Mike Whorf Inc. which sold to schools, libraries and individuals cassette tape copies of Kaleidoscope. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he partnered with nephew, author and retired United States Marine Corps Captain Charles "Charlie" T. Westcott III on radio dramas and comedies that were featured during the Kaleidoscope hour, including the old-time radio parodies "Big Jim Small" and "Another Man’s Family."

Whorf briefly parted from WJR from 1983 to 1984 to serve as program director of classical station WQRS-FM in Detroit. While with WQRS, Whorf created the program "Quest for Excellence," a juried music competition show for young talents broadcast live before a studio audience. Whorf later brought that program to CKLW in Windsor, Ontario and took it with him upon his return to WJR.

Whorf's programs were also broadcast by WVXU-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate station of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Michigan State University's WKAR-AM 870 in East Lansing currently rebroadcasts classic Kaleidoscope programs Saturday afternoons at 4pm.

In addition to his Peabody-winning work on topics including the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Whorf also received multiple broadcasting awards from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.[9][10]

In 2008 he was inducted into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.[11][12]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "House Concurrent Resolution No. 139". Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan. 2. Michigan Legislature. 1969. p. Page 1379. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  2. ^ "KALEIDOSCOPE 1968". Peabody Awards. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  3. ^ http://www.artfact.com/artist/whorf-john-t815pikrpe
  4. ^ "Carol Whorf Westcott, 82". Provincetown Banner. May 1, 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  5. ^ "Provincetown artist Nancy Whorf dies at 79". Provincetown Banner. June 29, 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  6. ^ "John Whorf, formerly of Provincetown". Provincetown Banner. April 1, 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  7. ^ http://la.curbed.com/archives/2010/09/the_militarys_nuclear_bomb_motion_picture_studio_in_the_hollywood_hills_1.php
  8. ^ http://www.prx.org/pieces/55659-legends-and-lore-of-christmas-26
  9. ^ Bulletin - National Music Council. 37-39. National Music Council (U.S.). 1977. p. 14. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  10. ^ "Broadcasting". 90. Broadcasting Publications. 1976. p. 39. 
  11. ^ "Engineer Larry Estlack Will Enter Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame". Radio World. 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  12. ^ "Michigan Broadcasters Inducted into MAB Hall of Fame". Radio. July 18, 2008. Retrieved 2010-09-04.