McCain, one of WOL's most popular personalities, dies at 75
The Washington Post
(October 26, 2012) 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.
He was 75 and had renal failure, said his daughter Leslie Charleton. He
had gone off the air more than a year ago because of his declining
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.
"We want to make a difference in people's lives," Mr. McCain told The
Washington Post in 1981. "We want to do more than talk. We plan to bring
people to the mike who have control and power, people who make decisions
that affect other people's lives, so our listeners can question them and
Bernard Robert McCain was born Nov. 8, 1936, in Newark. He served in the
Marine Corps in the 1950s and held a variety of jobs, including stints
as the manager of a rock-and-roll group and, in Paris, as a produce
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