Milt Rosenberg, the veteran Chicago radio host died on January 9 at age 92. For nearly 40 years, Milt Rosenberg was considered the smartest man on the radio by his peers and audiences.
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As host of “Extension 720,” the University of Chicago psychology professor presided over a two-hour nightly meeting of the minds on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720. His voice was instantly recognizable to generations of nighttime AM radio listeners across the Midwest.
The legendary radio host died of complications from pneumonia on Tuesday after entering the hospital on New Year’s Day, according to close friend Joe Morris.
Born in New York City on April 25, 1925, Rosenberg received an undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College, a master’s at the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. from the Unversity of Michigan in 1954, according to Morris. He taught at Yale University, the Ohio State University, Dartmouth College and the Naval War College before coming to Chicago.
He once told a Chicago Tribune reporter he was very selective about which guests he wanted on his show, which featured a one-hour interview followed by an hour of discussion with callers.
He began hosting the broadcast in 1973, a position he held all the way until 2012. But he didn’t leave on his own accord. The management changed at WGN, and though Rosenberg wasn’t done with broadcasting, they – folks he described as “not the smartest people in the building” – ushered him out the doors of Tribune Tower in 2012.
“I’m on the older side, obviously, but I’m still full of piss and vinegar,” Rosenberg told media columnist Robert Feder at the time. “Publicly, I want to say it’s mutual. Obviously, they initiated it.”
Despite the hasty departure from WGN Rosenberg stayed where he felt like home, behind the mic, hosting Rosenberg an independent podcast and a weekday show on WCGO-AM in Evanston until 2016.
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Rosenberg was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in a 2008 White House Ceremony “for bringing the world of ideas to millions of listeners.” In 2014, the professor emeritus was among the first inductees into WGN Radio’s Walk of Fame.
He left behind two grandchildren and dear friends. His friend, Mr. Morris also wrote that Rosenberg leaves behind the “thousands of students and millions of listeners who will no longer hear his voice probing the far reaches of the cosmos, the fine details of history and literature, and the depths of the human mind.”
Rosenberg is survived by his wife Marjorie Anne King. They married in 1954 and have one son, Matthew Rosenberg, of Seattle. May he rest in peace.