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Milt Rosenberg Was Teacher And Broadcaster On WGN Radio, Dies At 92

January 11, 2018

In 2014 Milt Rosenberg was among the inaugural inductees into the WGN Radio Walk of Fame, with a plaque installed in the sidewalk outside Tribune Tower.

Having grown up in a home without television until I was in the sixth grade created the man I am today.  With a daily newspaper, radio, and books I continually discovered a world that was fascinating to learn about, and never short of new wonders to engage my mind.

That may sound like an odd place in which to start a blog post about the death of Milt Rosenberg, the professor who engaged his WGN radio audience with insightful interviews covering a broad swath of categories.  He died this week at the age of 92.  But his love of learning and talking about matters which intrigued him seemed to echo with the man I became.  He had characteristics which I found most compelling.

WGN has always been the type of station which allows for creative and interesting people to broadcast, and along the way make an impact on listeners which cover some 25 states.  Rosenberg’s “Extension 720” was a two-hour daily weeknight broadcast where a discussion of topics ranging from the maturation of African economies to the art of exorcism in the Catholic Church could be found.  He had a vocabulary which made me wonder if he always did crossword puzzles in ink.   His diction and on-air abilities were solid and his comfort zone behind the console seemed so self-assured.

What he was able to convince his listeners of each night was that it was all so easy.  Milt made it seem as if this was just a conversation between him and me–and the guest might be the interloper.  No matter where I was at the time of his show–be it as I was driving or settled back in bed listening–there was an intimacy to his show.  Rosenberg underscored something I have said about radio for decades.  Radio is the most intimate medium that exists.

The facts are of course that radio broadcasting is not easy.  It takes training and timing and patience.   I know as broadcasting from WDOR was my first career choice.   But Milt made his job look easy and that is, of course, a sign of a professional.

As a boy I would latch onto a radio voice such as Earl Nightengale’s and wish to emulate it, but given he had a bass-like resonance that was never to be.  There was only one Paul Harvey type of vocal delivery and there was no way to emulate that man.  And while it has been many years since I have been behind a microphone with a headset and dials galore in front me of me I still have great respect and admiration for the radio personalities who have made my listening hours so pleasurable.

Like Milt Rosenberg.

The part of him that remains as my favorite thought concerns his love of learning, thinking, and talking it all out with others.  That to me is the definition of being rich.  Having a curious mind, the ability to wade deep into topics which fascinate, and then engage others in a lively dialogue.

It is clear that Milt lived such a life.

Godspeed to a curious-minded man.

10-22-00, Ted Koppel visits the Milt Rosenberg show on WGN. CST/Brian Jackson

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