Tribute to John Baker

Yesterday morning I received word that my friend John Baker had died. I do not know the cause of death, but I was aware he had been battling a sickness for a week that left him very tired.

For the past five years, John was my partner on the Neil Rogers Audio Restoration project. We communicated via Facebook Messenger on a near daily basis and occasionally we would chat on the phone. We both shared a common goal, which was to recover as much audio from the Neil Rogers Show as we could and make those recordings accessible to his fans.

Here is a snippet from an article about the project titled Rogers still the talk of S. Florida Radio that appeared in both the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel in January 2014.

John Baker

John was able to convert any analog format into digital from cassettes to videotapes to reel-to-reel recorders. Almost every recovered show prior to January 1999 went through his hands. He was not only able to transfer audio to digital he had an amazing ability to be able to date a show by just listening to a few minutes.

There were a few times when John would receive a box of tapes in the mail without dates or incorrect dates and weeks later every clip of audio would be dated in the right sequence and handed off to me to add to our digital archives.

If there was a sound drop that we didn’t know who to credit, John would start sending out messages. He might spend a few hours trying to identify a 2-second clip. That is dedication.

In 2013, John produced and hosted this show of Neil Rogers tributes.

Out of his own pocket, John paid for whatever equipment he needed to complete a task. He paid for postage and even took road trips to meet up with other fans of Neil with audio to share.

He was a tremendous asset and without him, we would not have nearly as much audio as we were able to find. In addition to audio, John recovered numerous news stories related to Neil Rogers and South Florida radio and added them to this website. And over 1,000 photos too.

With John’s passing, Neil fans have lost a true historian. The upside is John was able to share much of his knowledge before he went. As of today, we have recovered over 5,000 hours of audio from Neil Rogers and other South Florida radio. Without John, a lot of that audio would have been lost forever.

He will be greatly missed. RIP John.

John Baker

I never met John face to face, as I live in Seattle, so I know him best from this image he used for his Facebook profile. 

Neil Rogers 2016 Radio Hall of Fame Induction

In 2016 Neil Rogers was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. The acceptance speech was delivered by his long time producer Jorge Rodriguez.

Thank you thank you Scott Shannon. Neil used to say never trust anybody with two first names. OK, boy it’s tough tough crowd. Don’t worry I’m not going to talk for a long time so don’t freak out. I’m not going to read Neil’s Wikipedia entry you can and the literature that you have there is all pretty accurate for the most part. Not everything but nevertheless.

I just want to say that you know Neil would have been 74 the 5th of this month and on the 4th which was a Friday I do my internet humble little internet radio show what you can hear on And around his birthday we like to celebrate and wax nostalgic about the good old days and on this particular show I was joined by Joe Castello, my backup producer, who produced Neil’s show if I was not available and produced my show if I sat in for Neil under the Beasley regime at WQAM. We were also joined by Brit Somers formerly known as Boca Brian soundsmith extraordinaire – who assembled the audio clip that we’re about to hear – and as we’re listening to it and it was very poignant nostalgic for us we agreed that many of the people in the room probably wouldn’t get it because not something Neil…the Neil show is not something that you can get in three or four minutes.

Indeed it took me the better part of a month as his producer before I figured out what was going on. It sounded like just mean man insulting everything and everyone. Callers calling up and kissing his butt. Neil would insult them for doing so and then they would call back. So it didn’t sound like a radio show. To me it sounded like madness but people say it’s oh it’s an acquired taste. I’ve heard people say that it’s an acquired taste but I think that more accurately describes something that you get used to like Limburger or something as opposed to a joke that you’re not getting or that you’re not in on, until you are, until you do, and then you get it and then you’re hooked

It was vaudeville. It was live spontaneous vaudeville complete with slapstick and pratfalls, pies in your face and Neil was the one throwing pies and throwing banana peels out there and it was very spontaneous. As matter of fact I’ve never worked on a show that had less planning. I can’t imagine a show that has less planning because we didn’t plan the show at all and the hour or so before the show Neil and I would discuss all the things that we wouldn’t be able to discuss on the show because when you’re doing stream-of-consciousness you never know what’s gonna come falling out of your mouth and get you in trouble. So I would tell people if you like Neil show you think that Neil is brave and acerbic and you know a lot of balls during his show, you should hear that the pre-show – that’s the real show, but it was it was brave.

He was a very brave man we didn’t screen the calls at all or very little. If I did answer the phones it was just to ask what city they were calling from so that they would have a point of reference. I’ve worked on other shows where the call screening was was so intense that it was practically an orchestrated situation.

Neil didn’t fear what a caller would say. He didn’t care. He was going to get the best of them. They weren’t going to get the best of him. He was that quick and everything was a setup he had to come back for everything and if you did set him up intentionally in vaudeville fashion it was magical. It was very flattering when he would set me up and allow me to deliver the punch line. I was very honored when he would do that.

South Florida is a mixed bag of nuts. A great big bag of mixed nuts. Those of us who live there, we live there on purpose. We’re free to leave and and yet there we are. So obviously we like something about it, but there’s a lot about South Florida frustrates us and Neil would take those sources of frustration and like straw spin it into comedy gold. It made it less bad because it gave us the ability to laugh at the things that were bothering us. When it was the bridges being stuck in the up position or anything else that was very unique to South Florida. If you’ve ever lived in South Florida or visited South Florida you might know what I’m talking about.

It was a magical time. For over 30 years Neil emceed what was going on there. It was a giant roundtable discussion that included everybody who had the nerve and was brave enough or crazy enough to call in and enter the atmosphere that Neil maintained and presided over. It was an atmosphere of quality. He had very high standards for what went on on his show and I was honored to be up to those standards. He was already very popular by the time I joined the show for the last 19 years of it and I’m just happy that Neil felt that I was worthy enough to stay there with him to the end.

The clip that you’re about to hear was assembled by Boca Brit formerly Boca Brian and if you enjoy it half as much as I do that means that I’ll be enjoying it twice as much as you. Roll it!

After the video played, Scott Shannon and Jorge Rodriguez complete the Neil Rogers portion of the ceremony.

(Scott Shannon) Ladies and gentlemen into the National Radio Hall of Fame: Mr. Neil Rogers and accepting Jorge Rodriguez.

(Jorge Rodriguez) Thank you. On behalf of Neil I want to thank the South Florida audience, the people who contributed to the show, producers like Joe Castello, Miguel Escobar and people that were responsible for a lot of the audio production on the show KJ, Adam “Guitar Man” Austin, Mitch Lewis and of course the world’s greatest parodist and songsmith Boca Brian who now lives abroad as Boca Brit Sommers. Thank you very much and Boca you deserve a piece of this. I’m gonna put it in my studio and so when you come over next time I might let you touch it and the award too.

Tribute to Eric Harold

Eric Harold was Neil’s web guy. He coded, hosted and maintained the website. Throughout the WQAM years and even before – Eric made sure that the fans of the Neil Rogers Show could listen to the show live or download shows via the archives.

Unfortunately, Eric Harold passed away at the age of 48 in March of 2011. This was just months after Neil Rogers, who passed away on December 24, 2010. Eric was a one man operation, so when no one was left to continue hosting and maintaining the website, it went offline in late 2011.

During the very early days of the Neil Rogers audio restoration project, I started an email to Eric introducing myself and how I could volunteer the shows I recovered from 1999 to a much larger project. Half way through the email is when I discovered I was too late and that he had passed away.


If you are interested in seeing the old website, the site took numerous snapshots going back to late 1998.*/


Eric was also responsible for making sure the Daily Polls that became such an important part of the show were working.


Neil Rogers Daily Poll from June 2004

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, most radio shows did not have a website of the caliber created by Eric. These days we take for granted that we can listen live or download shows we missed from the archives. Back then it was rare. Being one of the first to both stream live and host archives extended the popularity of Neil Rogers nationally and internationally.

Joe Castello who worked with Neil Rogers at WQAM said this recently about Eric.

One of the best human beings that has walked the Earth.

Eric resided in Orlando and away from the Miami market. I’d love to update this post if someone that was close to him comes forward with more information to share. It is also possible that many years of old Neil Rogers Shows reside on one of his servers or backup media.

I would like to thank Eric Harold for making the Neil Rogers Show accessible to me. I never lived in Miami or even heard the show live, but thanks to Eric became a fan via the audio archives on the website.