Roger Hartsook was associated with KVOE Radio for over 50 years.

 We appreciated his service so much that we named our interview studio after him.

          Roger started at KVOE when the McKernan family were the owners.  He did it all – sports, news, weather, and co-hosting Over the Back Fence with Lyle Brown. He left KVOE after McKernan’s sold out.

          My family purchased the stations in 1986 and not long after invited Roger back to join our marketing crew – a position he maintained until his

semi-retirement when he became a  mentor for our sales team and my co-host on the Chat. Health concerns later forced his total retirement.

          I’ve been racking my brain to decide what about Roger impressed me most? He was really smart – well-read in everything from Shakespeare to Star Wars. He was really good at trivia. Roger never met a stranger. He was opinionated but had the ability to listen then agree to disagree when necessary.

          Ron Thomas remembered that Roger never got mad or lost his temper. Maybe that’s why he could hold elected office for 16 years or why he and the Gazette news staff got along back when their owners did not!

          Roger loved music. He played in the Emporia City Band as long as he could and then became their Master of Ceremonies.

          A cute music story he liked to tell came when his mother moved the family to Emporia. Roger, a 6’2” 220 lb. sophomore was asked by the Spartan’s football coach “what do you play?” To which Roger answered “The Trombone!”

          Roger was a hopeless storyteller. Instead of hopeless maybe I should have said endless. His stories never ended!

          His best stories were often about old days at KVOE – about the McKernan’s - Ed, Jr. and Ed III, Lyle Brown and Denny Privat were involved often. I particularly loved his stories about C of E basketball trips when the boys from the armed forces played in the early ’70s for Gene Stauffer and Ross Hammond.

          I wanted the On-Air Chat to recreate the “Over the Back Fence,” so I asked Roger to join. Our association was interesting. We had to set boundaries which caused several people including my wife to suggest that “I was hard on Roger.” To Rog and me it was part of our stick. He’d start telling one of his stories and I’d interrupt asking “how long will this take?” He never complained so guess we were okay. Our listeners loved it!

          Roger’s final years were difficult. With his mobility almost gone he ended up in a care facility in Chase County. We texted or talked on a somewhat regular basis.  Roger never complained about his plight. When we learned he had the virus we knew it wasn’t good. He fought a good fight but finally gave in on Sunday.

          Roger Hartsook was truly an Emporia icon. He touched many lives and most everything he did was good. Our community is a better place because Roger spent his 76 years amongst us. He had a million friends.

          Rest in Peace old friend.

          I’m Steve Sauder

Rate this item
(0 votes)