Neil Rogers

Neil Rogers
Neil Rogers
Birth name Nelson Roger Behelfer
Born November 6, 1942(1942-11-06)
Rochester, New York
Died December 24, 2010(2010-12-24) (aged 68)
Broward County, Florida
Show The Neil Rogers Show
Station(s) 1360 AM WKAT, Miami
790 AM WNWS, Miami
940 AM WINZ, Miami
94.9 FM WZTA, Miami
610 AM WIOD, Miami
560 WQAM, Miami
Time slot Monday-Friday
Style Talk show host
Country United States
Website NeilRogers.com

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

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. 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.

Over the next decade, Rogers worked at several stations in several states, including New York, Michigan, and Florida, where he ended up at WJNO AM in West Palm Beach. 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. By the end of 1976, he was one of the top-rated radio personalities in the market.

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. 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.

When his contract with WKAT expired in 1979, Rogers remained in Miami but moved down the AM dial to 790, WNWS. 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, steadfast conspiracy theorist, 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 again in 1982, to Miami's WINZ. When he moved to 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) in 1988. Although ratings in the morning were immediate, Roger's long simmering battle with station management boiled over, culminating with him moving to WIOD in the fall of 1989. From WIOD he was briefly simulcast in the Tampa Bay market on WSUN. His last relocation was to 560 WQAM in 1997. 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." [3] He 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[4]. In 1989, the Hallandale City Commission voted to censure Neil Rogers for "offensive comments" that he had made about the elderly[5]. Rogers had survived all such attacks, and indeed, many of them have increased his popularity.

It was announced on April 14, 2008 that Rogers 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.[6] Rodriguez's firing was confirmed by Rogers at the start of the May 14, 2009 program.

Rodriguez' firing drew great response from Neil's fans. Rodriguez later began his own 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 Neil Rogers will no longer be featured on air at WQAM, but would consult for the station under a new agreement. Neil Rogers had retired from on-air radio.[7]

Rogers, at age 68, had been suffering from several health ailments in the last months of his life. His friend and attorney Norman Kent says the radio host suffered a stroke and heart attack in October and his condition had been declining since Thanksgiving.[8] He died on December 24, 2010 at the age of 68.

References

External links



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