Uncle Roger McCall

Class of 2017

Uncle Roger McCall (1951-2003) was a late-night DJ at WCMF radio station who for 30 years was affectionately known to his audience as “Uncle Roger.” He had the overnight shift — “Uncle Rog’s Late Night Rock ‘n’ Roll Café” — and he took his listeners on a musical adventure that lasted until the sun came up the next day. On Sunday nights he hosted a program called “Homegrown,” which was the only showcase in the 1980s and ’90s for local artists, playing tapes or indie singles and hosting live interviews in the WCMF studio. This led to a series of “Homegrown” compilation albums where many of the local bands had their first (and sometimes only) recordings released. It has been said that there wasn’t a band of that era in Rochester whose path wasn’t somehow easier because of Roger McCall and his support for local music.

Roger McCall was murdered during a robbery in 2003 at age 52. Much beloved, his funeral line of mourners, including many local musicians, lasted nine hours. According to WCMF, at the time of his death Uncle Rog was the longest running DJ at a single station in the United States, from 1973 to 2003. Radio colleague Brother Wease called Uncle Rog “a major champion of local musicians.”

Uncle Roger began his career in the days before corporate radio, when DJs programmed shows as they pleased. Those who saw him at work said he’d cue up records without looking while loading commercial carts and rewinding reel-to-reel tapes to the exact spot, all while talking, unhurried, with his low-pitched, reassuring demeanor, informing, entertaining, never missing a beat. One fan described it as a “ballet.” “You were watching the master at work, a nocturnal magician with a lifeline to music and imagination,” he said.

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