Radio & TV
For Bob Dorr, it’s always been about the music and the music makers. Be it as host of one of Iowa’s first late night, “underground” FM radio shows Progression or exclusive radio interviews with Tom Waits, Ry Cooder, Muddy Waters, Luther Allison, Jean Luc Ponty, Sleepy LaBeef, Average White Band (or hundreds more) or his weekly rock’n’roll history show Backtracks and his latest radio production Blue Avenue, Dorr is synonymous with Iowa public radio and television.
Dorr’s first night for Iowa Public Radio (then called KHKE) was the station’s first night on the air-October 2, 1972. Unencumbered by commercial constraints, listeners were exposed to anything from Gregorian Chants to pre-success Bruce Springsteen; from The Child’s Garden of Grass to entire album sides of Frank Zappa. In the late 70’s/ early 80’s Dorr first exposed Iowans to The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Damned. On December 8, 1980, KUNI listeners wept with Dorr on KUNI as he read minute by minute AP wire copy of John Lennon’s assassination. His tribute program that night won critical acclaim across the state.
From 1974-1976 Dorr’s show Record Rap was syndicated nationally through National Public Radio’s arts and information package. Eighty-nine stations ran this weekly record review piece.
In depth interviews from his unique musician’s perspective have allowed Iowans to meet blues legends (Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Albert Collins etc.); rock icons (Mason Profitt, Thin Lizzy, Sleepy LaBeef, etc.) and noted regional stars (Bo Ramsey, The Echos Five, House of Large Sizes, etc.)
Portions of some of those interviews are available below.
From that first night, Dorr’s presence has grown from one small local station to state-wide coverage with outlets in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Ottumwa, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Quad Cities, Dubuque and Mason City. Now the audience is world wide at www.iowapublicradio.org.
Dorr officially retired from his position at the University of Northern Iowa’s Broadcasting Services Department on December 31, 2009, but continues his weekend presence on Iowa Public Radio’s Studio One Network as an independent producer. He hosts “Backtracks”, the popular Saturday afternoon rock’n’roll history show and the Sunday evening blues show “Blue Avenue”, which is followed by the 30+ year tradition “The Beatles Medley”.
Bob Dorr was inducted to the Deejay category of the Iowa Rock’n’Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in 2000.
For over 40 years–the voice of public radio in Iowa. It’s all about the music.