John Rook 1964
John Rook 2013

John with Petula Clark
John Harlan Rook
10/9/1937 - 3/1/2016

It is with great sadness that I pass this on from Charlie Van Dyke. Charlie reports that John Rook, former KQV and WLS program director has passed away. John passed away Tuesday 3/1. John was 78. He died in Coeur d'Alene, ID with his sister Dot and his adopted son Jason. There will be no funeral. Instead he will be cremated and his ashes spread in his beloved Coeur d'Alene. A memorial gathering for his friends will be organized in the near future. RIP John!

John Rook was one of the most influential program directors ever hired at KQV.

J. Harlen Rook came to KQV from Denver, Colorado in January 1964. Originally from Chillicothe, Ohio, John started out as a reporter for the Omaha World Herald before going into radio. He was a record producer and appeared on a number of television shows as well. John appeared in the "Wild Bill Hickok" series as well as in the movie "My Man Godfrey" with June Allyson.

Among John's contributions to KQV were . . .  "Fun Lovin' KQV"   "Fun Lovin' Five", and "Groovy QV" "The Beatles arrival .... I worked that out with promoter Tim Tormey" . . . "Brinkman's "disc derby"

"Starting in 1963. I hired Al Julius, Dex Allen and Big Steve Rizen from my former station in Denver, KTLN ... Jim Quinn from WING Dayton, Wendy Williams from State College, Pa., and Hal "The Emperor" Murray from KDWB-Minneapolis. "

Dex Allen
Steve Rizen
Jim Quinn
Hal Murray
How did John Rook orchestrate the Beatles KQV appearance? 

"The Beatles arrival ... I worked that out with promoter Tim Tormey. Bringing the Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys, etc. to Pittsburgh came about when I made a deal with concert presenter ... Tim Tormey ... he was a Pittsburgher ... Those remote mic's that ABC sent us to cover the Beatles was another idea I had ... Tormey said the Beatles would not allow a "live" broadcast of the concert ... I knew that KDKA was planning on taping it and playing it back an hour later ... so, we just broadcast live from the arena ... back to the studio ... then a 30 second delay tape ... so we didn't cover the concert live on KQV ... it was 30 seconds later ... but 29 1/2 minutes before KDKA got it on the air. They finally gave up and didn't finish the concert on KDKA"

Variety covered the battle between KQV and KDKA over the Beatles September 14, 1964 arrival and concert in Pittsburgh this way ... 

"When the Beatles came to the US, KDKA with it's Group W connections was airing complete reports from Jim Stagg and Art Schreiber who were on the Beatle plane for the whole tour. The station went out and bought 100 tickets for the show here and gave them away in various contests on the Clark Race show.  Four reporters were assigned to cover the Beatles once they arrived in Pittsburgh but Race went on ahead to meet them in Baltimore when he ran into the buzz saw of the "Fun Loving Five."

Chuck Brinkman
Dex Allen
Clark Race
"Dexter Allen and (Chuck) Brinkman arrived at Baltimore on Sunday morning and met operations manager, John Rook, and together they planned their strategy. Armed with an introduction they had an easy time meeting Bess Coleman, personal secretary to Brian Epstein. Allen confessed that he wanted to ride back on the special plane to Pitt and that he wanted to get some interviews for KQV. She was able to oblige with the interviews which were on the KQV air almost immediately afterwards. The two stayed for a party backstage at the show and all the while were trying to wangle an invitation from Miss Coleman to travel on the special plane. It was at this point that some dirty pool entered into the proceedings. Race was scheduled to ride the plane but was bumped when Allen and Brinkman insisted on getting equal space. When Race came back to Pittsburgh, he went on the air complaining about this part of the gambit.

"On the day of the arrival, all the Fun Loving Five were out at the airport in helicopters and cars and interviewing like mad but they were being battled toe to toe by the KDKA news team. All day long, KQV carried beep interviews with KDKA holding interview sessions for regular time periods. At the actual press conference at the hotel where all news media were represented, (Tim) Tormey said that no live interviews would be permitted. KQV pulled a sneak on this one by recording on a tape recorder that sent the story to the station on a seven second delay on special ABC equipment that was recently developed. These transistors wireless microphone aids were also used that night at the Arena.  KDKA was still in there slugging but they played by the rules but with "Front Page" Fun Lovers there was no rules - only a story to get.

"Both stations played Beatle records all day long with KDKA giving interviews attention during scheduled spots but KQV dramatically interrupted any program on the air to bring one of their Beatle Specials.  All in all, the two stations went right down to the wire with KQV laying in close after KDKA had taken a strong and impressive lead. 

"But at the stretch when thousands of people filed into the Arena, there were four banners around the score board and one big banner strung above the stage reading "KQV AUDIO 14" and then when the preliminary acts were over, Brinkman stepped up to the mike and very proudly said, "KQV presents the Beatles."

News Conference
Hal Murray
News Conference
Beatles on Arena Stage
Stage Banner
"Since this went out over the air live, there was no longer a contest."
Variety article by Lenny Litman  12/23/1964
The Beatles impact on KQV's Finest Forty and Hit Parade Surveys was unprecedented.
Click here to see a recap of the Beatles on KQV's weekly music surveys.

Who's Got 'Em - We've Got 'Em - Who's Got The Beatles !

John Rook was responsible for many of KQV's Beatles exclusives.  Through John's contacts, Beatles records were sent to KQV first and then sent through out the ABC chain to WABC and WLS.  KQV had an 8 day head start on the rest of the country with "Yes It Is" and "Ticket To Ride" according to an April 14, 1965 edition of Variety.

KQV Welcomes the Beatles Poster

Aaron Mintz provided these airchecks of KQV's
Team Coverage of The Beatles
Civic Arena Press Conference plus
Introductions from the Civic Arena Stage.
by Dex Allen, Chuck Brinkman, Dexter Allen & Bill Clark.
with Keeve Berman in the KQV Studio.

September 14, 1964

 Beatles Coverage Part 1 (9:20)
 Beatles Coverage Part 2 (6:15)
 Beatles Coverage Part 3 (20:23)
 Beatles Coverage Part 4 (10:29)
 Beatles Coverage Part 5 (7:32)
KQV Premiered The Beatles' Rubber Soul Album
November 30, 1965
 Dave Scott Aircheck - Rubber Soul Premier (6:34)
 Chuck Brinkman Aircheck - Rubber Soul Premier (12:40)

In March of 1965 during the height of the British Invasion, John sent Chuck Brinkman to England to interview the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five and others.

Later that year Chuck was also sent to the Bahamas to interview the Beatles during the filming of their second movie HELP !

Chuck with Producer Walter Shenson

HELP ! KQV Welcomes the Beatles Again Poster

Another of John's ideas was the KQVehicle...

"I gave birth to the KQVehicle in the early spring of 64 ... a big flood hit Pittsburgh ... I called ABC and asked  for a boat / car  ... one like my old competitor in Denver had .... and sure nuff ... they had the damn thing shipped to us .... three or four months after it was needed for the flood .... so after using it that summer ... we gave it away in a contest."

John Rook remained at KQV until December 1, 1967 when he was transferred to co-owned WLS in Chicago.

On August 10, 2001, John Rook was featured in the Legends with Bob Shannon series in Radio & Records.  An excerpt of that article included is the portion explaining how John was hired for Pittsburgh, the bringing of The Beatles to Pittsburgh and John's promotion to WLS.

Go to John Rook's Picture Page

John is writing his autobiography "Passing Thru" - excerpts are at