Friday, October 26, 2012

R.I.P.: WOL’s Bernie McCain Dies At 75

Bernie McCain, the WOL talk show host who for three decades was one of Washington’s most popular figures in black radio, died Oct. 13 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Washington Post photo
He was 75 and had renal failure, Emily Langer at the Washington Post quotes his daughter Leslie Charleton. He had gone off the air more than a year ago because of his declining health.

Mr. McCain had worked in radio for more than 15 years when WOL (1450 AM) hired him away from the Washington AM station WRC in 1981. Today, WOL is owned by Radio One, a media company that serves a largely African American and urban market.

He quickly became one of the station’s flagship personalities and a daily presence known to listeners of his call-in show as “Uncle Bernie.” In an interview, Radio One founder Cathy Hughes described him as “a black version of Mister Rogers.”

“It was a learned voice, but he was sort of down-home,” said Denise Rolark Barnes, the publisher of the Washington Informer, an African American, woman-owned newspaper. “He made people comfortable calling and expressing their opinions.”

Mr. McCain was most associated with the afternoon drive-time but had also done morning drive-time and midday shows over the years.

He was, by all accounts, opinionated. But he distinguished himself from many on-air personalities in radio by not being rude to callers, even when conversation touched on such sensitive issues as economic empowerment, education, political engagement and parenting.

1 comment:

  1. Bernie's 'Help a Junkie Bust a Pusher' when he was at WWRL in NYC was inspirational to me and has motivated me throughout my life to fight drug abuse!