At Kent State University
Flying Dutchman Records
James Spaulding FT
Ron Carter B
William Roscoe Mercer, known for decades to New York radio listeners simply as Rosko, died on Tuesday. He was 73 and lived in New York. The cause was cancer, according to his daughter Valerie J. Mercer.
Mr. Mercer was the first black news announcer on WINS in New York and, as Rosko, the first black disc jockey on KBLA in Los Angeles. He went on to become a pioneer of free-form FM radio in New York City. On WOR-FM in 1966 and on WNEW-FM from 1967 to 1970, his calm, husky voice with its hint of Southern drawl and his wide-ranging programming made him an authoritative companion amid the musical ferment of the late 1960's.
He delved into rock, soul, folk and jazz; he read poetry and conversed with his unseen listeners in almost fatherly monologues. In one set during the late 1960's, he recited antiwar poetry by Yevgeny Yevtushenko to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the Lord's Prayer, then played Richie Havens's antiwar song ''Handsome Johnny'' as a lead-in to a news report about bombing in Vietnam.