RACINE — Donn Edmark always wanted to be on the radio.
At least that’s what Violet Edmark, his wife of 64 years, always heard from his family.
“As a young boy, he would pick up a shovel a shovel or a broomstick and pretend it was a mic, and he would talk as though he was on the radio,” Violet said.
A well-known voice on the local radio waves and the man who built the news desk at WRJN radio, Edmark died Tuesday at the age of 89.
Born up north in Oconto, Edmark came to radio late in life.
Despite a love for broadcasting, the family man served in the U.S. Coast Guard in Kenosha, later taking a job as factory worker for American Motors.
A strike at the auto plant in the late 1960s finally gave him the excuse to seek a job in radio, explains Violet.
Donn did not believe in picketing, Violet said, so he went down to WAXO radio in Kenosha and asked for a job.
They liked his voice, Violet, 87, recalls, and a few days later — after passing a broadcasting test in Chicago — he was on the air.
From WAXO he went to another Kenosha station, WLIP. He was only there for a year, before he took a job at WRJN, where he was tapped to set up the station’s first news department.
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That was in 1969, just after the station was sold by The Journal Times to Sentry Broadcasting.
Over the ensuing years, Edmark would rise through the ranks at WRJN to eventually become the station’s news director, a post he held until his retirement in 1987.
WRJN’s current news director, Tom Karkow, remembers Edmark as a fair and patient boss. Karkow started at the station in 1979.
He also was an award winner, snagging Associated Press and United International press awards.
“He allowed me to grow and make mistakes,” said Karkow. “He was a bubbly kind of guy. He had a lot of fun. And he loved to sing. He would just burst into song when he felt like it.”
Asked how one might sum up Edmark’s work, his wife points to a statement in a 1982 Journal Times article that the devout Jehovah’s Witness used to describe his approach to news broadcasting.
“I was a human being long before I was a newsman. Some of the things, it pains me to talk about,” he said.
Edmark is survived his wife, five children, 15 grandchildren, and 12 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Kenosha Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 7333 Green Bay Road, Kenosha, according to an obituary in the Kenosha News. The visitation will begin at 1 p.m., with the discourse to follow at 2 p.m., the obituary states.