Bill Rosko Mercer
A man of principles
(click below to listen to Rosko’s theme”
Fall 1969 "We, all of us, sitting here in our small comforts, worrying about inflation...swapping small talk at lunch...wrapped in ourselves in our banalities…all of us must sleep tonight in the knowledge that we share in mass murder.”
Bill Rosko Mercer
William Roscoe Mercer was born on May 25, 1927, in New York City. After first working as a government clerk and a men's-room attendant, he began his radio career as a jazz disc jockey at WHAT in Chester, PA. Later he was a DJ at WDAS in Philadelphia and then to WBLS in New York. In the late 1950's, when DJ were trying to form a union, he refused to cross a picket line. Management black listed him for six months. In the early 1960's, Rosko was back on the radio in Oakland and then back east at WBLS.
Rosko, though obviously experienced, was not as well-known a name as Murry the K and Scott Muni when WOR-FM switched to rock in 1966. He quickly became a favorite. Only a year later in October 1967, WOR-FM management began to use the Drake system, which emphasized the replay of hits songs. It upped ratings, but greatly diminished the person style that the DJs had developed.
Monday 2 October 1967
“I cannot go along with the new policy here.”
On October 2, 1967, without warning the station's management, Rosko spoke for five minutes about why he was resigning, saying, ''When are we going to learn that controlling something does not take it out of the minds of people?'' and declaring, ''In no way can I feel that I can continue my radio career by being dishonest with you.'' He added that he would rather return to being a men's-room attendant. Click the link below to hear his resignation.
WNEW-FM > France
By November 1967 WNEW-FM, hired Rosko where he stayed for just a year. It was in August 1968 that Rosko read the anti-war piece you hear over today's blog entry. It was a new time in radio and Rosko was at that DJ forefront. In 1970 he moved to France for five years and worked for the Voice of America.
Back in the USA
He returned to the US and was heard during the 1980's on WBLS-FM and WKTU-FM. In 1985, Mercer quit WKTU-FM while on the air, because of a reported dispute with the station's hierarchy. In 1992, when he learned he had cancer, he refused chemotherapy, turning instead to alternative medicine. He died on August 1, 2000: NYT obit Full recording of Rosko on My Lai
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