Radio personality wins hearts of listeners with easy-going style and big heart

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Some of his fans know the radio celebrity Rosco by his distinctive voice, with its good-morning kind of tone and solicitous warmth.

Others know him by sight, recognizing the same tone and warmth in a face that easily breaks into a smile followed by hearty laughter.

Whether they listen to him in the morning on the popular Natchez station WQNZ-FM or they follow his appearances throughout the Miss-Lou area as he helps raise funds or awareness for some good cause, his fans and friends know one thing for sure about Rosco &045;&045; he loves people.

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Radio has given him a connection to people that suits him perfectly, he said, sitting for a recent chat in one of the studios at the station. And through radio he has overcome a basic shyness that his fans might find difficult to imagine of this outgoing, gregarious man.

His name is Dave Kimbro. He grew up in Natchez and as a teenager, through his friendship with the late David Perkins, whose family owns the radio station, he began to do a little radio work about 1970 &045;&045; slowly, shyly and about as unpolished as could be, he said with a toss of his head and a big laugh.

&uot;In 1976, I went to Jackson WJDX. It was my goal to work there,&uot; Kimbro said, explaining that it was the No. 1 station in the state.

He gained a following as the Doloroso Flash, which he found to be &uot;a terrible radio name. I dropped it to Doloroso and then in 1984 went to work for WTYX-FM in Jackson, a high-end top-40 station with a whole different personality.&uot;

Doloroso became Rosco. Fan base grew. He became a radio celebrity in Jackson, named DJ of the year, frequently appearing around the community and hosting a television show from a water park, &uot;sort of like the American Band Stand show,&uot; Kimbro said. &uot;That was back when I was much thinner and had dark hair.&uot;

In 1990, the chance to return to Natchez occurred at a time when his father was ill and he wanted to be close to home.

He jumped at the chance but found he had plenty of adjustment to make to his hometown market.

Kimbro grew up working in his family’s grocery store on South Canal Street, doing everything from cutting meat to making deliveries.

He started hanging out at the radio station with his friend and thought it would be great to be on the radio because he could be in a room by himself, Kimbro said.

&uot;I was such a shy child. And at first I couldn’t even have anyone in the control room with me,&uot; he said. &uot;My first time on the microphone, we were playing Notre Dame football, and for 15 minutes before the game started, I’d be he one to say, ‘stay tuned, keep listening, coming up.’ It was terrible.&uot;

Station owner Marie Perkins was like another mother to him and always a great mentor, Kimbro said.

&uot;I’ve always called her Aunt Ree. She is a super lady, and I’ve been fortunate to be working with her as long as I have.&uot;

Coming back to Natchez from the larger Jackson listening area, Kimbro brought with him a style that at first did not go over with Miss-Lou listeners, he said.

&uot;I started doing a morning show with Jeff Holt. He was like a dad to me, always having good food for thought,&uot; Kimbro said. &uot;I had the Jackson mentality. People didn’t like it. I stood back and remembered a guy I had worked with who had a laid-back approach. I began to develop that kind of style.&uot;

Letting go of some of the polish he had cultivated in Jackson and working to gain the trust of his new listeners, he began to click with the Miss-Lou. He gained a reputation for patriotism and compassion during Operation Desert Storm.

&uot;We took our van out to see the troops off,&uot; he said. &uot;It was something I wanted to do. I think that is what catapulted me into acceptance here.&uot;

He continues to seek ways to help people in need by appeals made during his radio program. Successes have included providing help for flood victims in Missouri and tornado victims in Oklahoma. Soon his reputation led fund raisers to call on him for assistance frequently.

Kimbro is pleased that his career has included those opportunities to help others, particularly his special loves, including Pleasant Acre Day School.

He will be a part of the Relay for Life fund raiser next week, as he has been for that event since it began. And the list goes on for Dave &uot;Rosco&uot; Kimbro.

&uot;Recognizing the needs of people in the community has become a big part of my life. I’m fortunate to work in a place that goes for that,&uot; he said. &uot;I guess I’ll be in radio the rest of my life.&uot;

Everywhere he goes, he represents 95-Country, Kimbro said. Sometimes he and his wife, Benita, take weekend trips to places where no one knows his voice or face.

&uot;And even that is sometimes hard to do,&uot; he said. &uot;We were out on a boat in the Mississippi River with nobody else much around, and we pulled into that little inlet out by the St. Catherine Wildlife Refuge. There was one man in a little boat. And he looked at us and called out, ‘is that you, Rosco?’&uot;