WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer

WNEW 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.”

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer

William Roskoe 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.

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer


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.

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer

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 Bill Rosko Mercer

WNEW-FM  > France

By November 1967 WNEW-FM, hired Rosko.

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.

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer
Back in the USA–Still principled

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

WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer

6 thoughts on “WNEW Bill Rosko Mercer”

  1. From Brian Burgess: Bill made quite an impression on a young kid who had just discovered progressive rock radio. Even more than Scottso & The Nightbird. Maybe it was because of his time slot. I was always upstairs doing homework that time of night. I was familiar with Gibran, but Rosko opened me up to Yevtushenko and other poets, artists beyond what was played on top 40. It was radio that wasn’t just background noise. It was radio worth listening to.
    A few years later I joined my college radio station and was determined to do that same kind of radio. I didn’t do a lot of poetry, as I saw the industry had moved on from that. But there was a LOAD of great music out there ( this was 1969) and me and the other jocks tried to play ALL of it. Putting it together in a way that made you want to LISTEN was a wonderful way to learn about the artists, the music, and where it all came from.
    Our world is much poorer by not having voices like Bill, Scott, Pete, Alison, and all the other wonderful voices that brought us so much more than just music.

  2. Rosco reading ” for what is man ”
    Book excript from a book by
    Thomas wolfe
    You can never go home again

    1. Hearing Roscoe’s reading for what is man was a life-changing experience for me. I searched for it for years and finally found it and printed it out and handed it to many of my friends and family for them to ponder some said. What is this all about? I just said life. Don’t you ever listen to Roscoe? I remember Roscoe 77 years old now. Still working still wondering for what is man? Thank you for remembering this.

  3. I consider myself fortunate that I had an FM radio in my car to hear Roscoe NWNEW FM. That was wonderful more, and what are we doing now? We’re gonna listen to Roscoe. Can’t get too far away from the city, we’ll get static.

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