Bob Hale

2010 - Disc Jockey

Bob Hale is a legendary radio and television broadcaster who spent most of his career gracing the airwaves.

Perhaps the most remembered event in his storied career was his night as the DJ/host of the Surf Ballroom Winter Dance Party in 1959 after which Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed. As a rock and roll DJ at Mason City ’s KRIB, he was serving as host of the Surf’s weekly record hop, events that brought nationally recognized recording artists to North Central Iowa.

Hale recalls the bus with Valens, Holly, Richardson, Dion and Frankie Sardo arrived in the late afternoon. He was involved in the famous “coin toss” during the show’s intermission…and the rest, as they say, is rock and roll history.

Bob began his broadcast career at WHA-AM, Madison WI in 1952 as a member of the University of Wisconsin broadcast staff. He joined KRIB in Mason City in 1958, hosting the popular afternoon “Top 40” program. He came to KRIB with a new staff and changed the format from agriculture information to popular music. That took the 250-watt station from fifth place in a four-station market to number one in just three months time.

From Mason City, Hale worked at stations in Springfield and Peoria before settling in Chicago at WLS as the host of “East of Midnight.” He was one of the original Swinging Seven who changed the sound of Chicago radio. In addition to music, during his career, Hale handled weekday sports and was a weekend news anchor. For 16 years, Bob was host of “Today” in Chicago . He is shown in the picture with Chicago mayor Richard Daley.

After a stint in Lexington, KY, Hale returned to Chicago to work until retiring in 1996. He frequently returns to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake as emcee for the annual Winter Dance Party. He is a freelance travel writer and photographer, living in Park Ridge, IL .

For his years of bringing Iowa music and musicians to the airwaves and for his continued support of Iowa’s music history, Bob Hale joins the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 as a premier DJ.

The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum exists to preserve the legacy of rock and roll music in Iowa by honoring achievements, educating youth and inspiring artists. Established in 1997, we are a501(c)(3) non-profit statewide organization with many areas of service.

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