WCMF's Unkle Rog Killed
Police say radio host was shot in attempted robbery on Saturday.
By Greg Livadas D&C Staff Writer

(December 14, 2003)

Friends of a Rochester radio personality were shocked to learn that Roger McCall, a disc jockey who hosted a radio show for nearly 30 years, had been shot to death Friday.

"It's just so sad and tragic. This guy was about peace and love, and people loved this guy," said disc jockey Brother Wease, who worked with McCall at WCMF-FM (96.5).

Best known as "Unkle Rog," McCall, who hosted a Sunday night "Homegrown" radio show spotlighting local bands, was shot about 5:50 p.m. at 39 Madison St., police said. He was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound to the torso.

"The preliminary investigation points to the motive of this shooting as possibly being a robbery attempt," said Sgt. Carlos Garcia. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

McCall, 52, of Perinton, had worked at WCMF since 1974 and felt most comfortable working the overnight shift, often from midnight to 5:30 a.m.

"He was a hippie soul," said Wease, whose real name is Alan Levin. "He was all about peace, love, understanding and music. And he got to live the life he loved."

Wease called McCall "the No. 1 supporter of local musicians. McCall made six albums featuring local bands over the past 25 years.

McCall's wife, Denise, called him "wise and intelligent" and said he was a wonderful father to their son, Jason, 27. "He was the kindest, sweetest, most generous loving man I have ever known," she said.

She said he was a master player of backgammon and Jeopardy, and enjoyed playing video games with Jason.

McCall, who rented houses, often to those in need, would frequently give his tenants clothing or other items they needed.

"He was a charitable man," his wife said. "I'm sure there were other acts of kindness I don't even know about."

McCall also enjoyed performing music and played bass in a local band called The Fugitives.

Armand Schaubroeck, who owns House of Guitars in Irondequoit, said McCall had a passion for music and helping young bands trying to get their music heard.

"We called him the friend of the new bands. That's really where he wanted to be," Schaubroeck said. "On the outside, Rog had a big sincere smile for everyone he met. On the inside, he had a heart of gold, one of the most beautiful people I have ever met."

Schaubroeck said McCall rarely talked about himself, preferring to talk about the local music scene. If a band made a recording in a band member's basement, McCall would eagerly listen to it and often invite the band members on the show to talk about an upcoming performance or record release.

"This is a loss for all the bands," Schaubroeck said. "His heart was totally in it. It wasn't just a job. He lived it. "

Chris Hingel, 21, of Pittsford, a drummer in the band Dis-Harmony, listened to McCall over the past five years. He sent him a sample CD a few months ago, then followed up with a phone call.

"The first time I talked with him, he was just so warm-hearted," Hingel said. "He said he loved it. He was a big supporter of our band and would play us every week on his show. He was the first one to actually support us. It wasn't a fake support. He was sincere."

Dis-Harmony was invited to be on his show in September and again for a Christmas special next Sunday.

"I don't know how many listeners listen from 12 to 2 a.m. on a Sunday night, and we asked him why he did this," Hingel said. "He said, "Because", and pointed to us. He was real. I still think tonight I can give him a call and he'll be there."

Tom Schippers said McCall helped his band, Immaculate Mary, when it was just starting in 1984. He was the first one to play the band's music on the air.

"As a result of Roger's efforts, we could pretty much go on his show at the drop of a hat. When others wouldn't support us, Unkle Rog would. He was very supportive," said Schippers, of Irondequoit.

Another member of Immaculate Mary, Tony Brunett of Rochester, said he was on McCall's program dozens of times.

"It was the outlet to getting the word out about our shows. He helped so many bands. He embraced everybody. It's a really dark day for all the local musicians as well as his family."

Wease said the station is planning "a huge eulogy" for McCall to include on-air tributes as well as a yet-to-be-planned concert at a local nightclub.

But Wease said it was unknown what WCMF would be doing tonight at midnight, when McCall would have hosted his "Homegrown" show. Some shows were taped, but most were done live, he said.

A funeral is being planned for Tuesday, although specifics were not complete Saturday, McCall's

wife said.