Roby Yonge (1943 – July 18, 1997) was an American radio DJ, most notable in the 1960s. He was best known for being fired from New York station WABC-AM in 1969, after he reported over the air that the singer Paul McCartney of The Beatles might be dead.
Early life and education
Born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Yonge grew up in Ocala, Florida. He got his first radio job when he was 15 years old. Roby's first Miami, Florida job was as a newsman at WIOD, which was then WCKR.
Yonge moved to Miami's WQAM, where his on-air nickname was "The Big Kahuna".
In December 1967, Yonge moved to New York and WABC. Five-minute snippets of Yonge, each spotlighting a fact in rock history, aired on other ABC radio stations as well, such as WLS-AM, on weekday evenings during early 1969. Originally hired for the 1 - 3 PM shift, Yonge was moved into the overnight shift in August 1969 when Charlie Greer left the station. He was told by program director Rick Sklar in the early fall, that his contract would not be renewed. He subsequently went on the air with the Paul McCartney "death" rumor on October 21, 1969, having heard the rumor from WKNR-FM (Detroit) radio personality Chris Randall. Stating that he had already been fired and that at 12:39 AM, he would not be "cut" because there was nobody around, Yonge began to speculate on rumors circulating about the possible death of McCartney. He enumerated various "clues" in album cover art which he said had been catalogued by thirty Indiana University Bloomington students. Callers lit up the station switchboard. It was an hour and a half before program director Rick Sklar got Les Marshak in to relieve Yonge. Marshak continued to do Yonge's show until a replacement was hired.
Sklar's reach did not cross radio bands, as, less than 3 weeks later, on November 14, 1969, former WABC DJ Bob "Bob-a-loo" Lewis did a full production "Paul is Dead" show on WABC-FM, putting forth many of the same assertions about McCartney's supposed death that had resulted in Yonge being yanked off the air.
Yonge was hired by WCBS-FM, where he helped introduce the "Oldies" format of popular songs to that station. After a few years, he returned to Florida, where he served as general manager of Mother WMUM, an early FM rock station in Palm Beach. After the demise of Mother in 1972, Yonge became a morning personality on Y100 WHYI in Fort Lauderdale/Miami. He was fired after the first day on the air, August 3, 1973. He moved to the competitor WMYQ-FM, where he spoke as a commentator with a morning show.
Roby Yonge died on July 18, 1997 of an apparent heart attack at age 54.
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