“Here’s to Our Dads” – Guest Blogger Peter Whorf

In this poignant guest blog, WKAR’s Peter Whorf happens to have quite a bit in common with musician Jeff Haas, the featured artist along with his quintet this Sunday at Wharton Center in a celebration of Jeff’s father, music icon Karl Haas.


Peter Whorf

Are you related to…?

Yes, he’s my dad.

I can’t recall how many of my conversations have begun this way since I moved back to my home state a year and a half ago.   I’m thrilled every time someone remembers my dad, Mike Whorf, and his WJR radio program Kaleidoscope.

Dad’s show was heard every weekday at 11am.  His unique blend of narrative, music, interviews and archival sound created vivid portraits of the famous and the infamous – of places and events that shaped history or had been long forgotten.  To those outside of our region, I’ve often described Kaleidoscope as “History Channel for radio…30 years before”.  Now I tell people…”Kaleidoscope was a little like This American Life.  Five times a week. With a staff of one.  My dad.  Oh…and he won a Peabody too.”

Kaleidoscope led into the great J.P. McCarthy’s midday Focus …arguably radio’s most intelligent and engaging interview program ever.  And of course, Kaleidoscope followed another Peabody winner…Karl Haas’ 10am Adventures in Good Music.  Good morning everyone!

Karl Haas and Van Cliburn

This Sunday, Karl’s son, Jeff Haas, will perform a Wharton Center concert tribute to the 100th anniversary of his famous father’s birth.  I’m sure that among Jeff’s audience will be many who have asked the “related to” question. Another thing Jeff and I share came up during this week’s WKAR interview with Melissa Benmark.  Jeff told Melissa the story of one of his dad’s fan letters.  It was from a Michigan dairy farmer who listened to Adventures every day in his milking parlor.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about half the time” he wrote  “but I sure do enjoy it!”  Jeff got a big kick out this story.

Like Jeff, I also get a charge out of hearing the many stories of my dad’s fans.  I like to think about the long-haul trucker on the Ohio turnpike, weary from an all-day drive from Erie to Chicago, finding an  invigorating companion in Kaleidoscope.  Or the Lansing school teacher who regularly borrowed Kaleidoscope tapes from the local library as a teaching aid in her world history class.  This past year alone, I’ve heard dozens of these stories from the hundreds of conversations that started with “are you related to…?”  I’m grateful for that.

The farmer, the trucker and the teacher bring back a flood of personal memories and also remind me of the best that radio can be.

Here’s to our dads.


Peter Whorf is the Station Manager for WKAR Radio, 90.5 FM.

To listen to the full interview with Jeff Haas on WKAR, visit: http://wkar.org/post/son-performs-tribute-radio-legend-karl-haas

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Posted in At Wharton Center, Events, Guest Blog, Performing Arts, Wharton Center News

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