DJ recalled by colleagues
Dr. Rock kept oldies fans dancing, both at home while listening to their radios and in downtown Warren, where the street dances the DJ hosted in the 1980s filled Courthouse Square.
Ron Laskey, the man behind that radio persona, died Tuesday at age 76 at Windsor House in Champion.
Laskey worked in radio in western Ohio and Michigan before arriving in the Mahoning Valley in 1971. He worked at several stations over the years, but he is best remembered for his time at WRRO-AM, which is where he hosted an oldies show and created the Dr. Rock persona.
“I want a show that people can party to,” Laskey said in a 2019 interview. “I used to do something like that in Lansing (Michigan). I was nuts, and people loved it.”
Bob Kersmarki, who was station manager at WRRO at that time, said, “Ron Laskey was a big talent and a kind soul and a joy to work with. I will miss him.”
He was able to entertain the crowd with both the music he picked and his magnetic charisma, Kersmarki said.
“Probably the biggest street dance I remember is Dr. Rock playing to a huge crowd of well over 1,000 people as we awaited the arrival of our special guest, Spuds McKenzie, the official mascot of Bud Light,” he said. “All of a sudden, a police escort with lights flashing led a limo to the stage and out jumped Spuds McKenzie carrying a Bud Light. The crowd roared as Dr. Rock played the pulsating music.”
Jan Vaughn, assistant director of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, worked as a radio reporter for WRRO when Laskey was there and also has fond memories of those street dances.
“The good vibes from the crowd were contagious,” she said. “I had never seen that many people out and about, having a good time, downtown. Ron was also a valued colleague, and a very kind person who would do anything for others at the radio station.”
After he retired from radio, Laskey continued to spin music at car shows in the area.
In that 2019 interview, he bemoaned the changes he heard in contemporary commercial radio compared to his heyday.
“You can go from one end of the country to the other, and the only thing that changes is the call letters,” he said. “They took the personality out of radio, and all they know how to do is read from index cards.”