Miami--Local broadcasting legend Neil Rogers is having serious health issues and will undergo open heart surgery on Friday at Westside Regional Hospital.
Rogers, 68, has been living in Toronto in recent years but has maintained a home in Plantation Acres. Rogers suffered a stroke and heart attack in October but seemed to be recovering.. “His condition has worsened since Thanksgiving,” Norman Kent, his friend and attorney, said.
Rogers returned to South Florida in early November for treatment and to be closer to friends, according to Kent. Rogers has no surviving immediate family..
The past few days, Rogers has lapsed in and out of consciousness, according to Kent. When he has been awake, Kent said, there are periods when he is the old sharp-minded Neil, complaining about every little issue. As recently as Sunday, Rogers called Kent at home late at night and asked him to come and get him because he was checking himself out of the hospital, said Kent, who talked Rogers out of it.
At other times, Rogers is unaware of his surroundings and doesn’t recognize visitors, Kent said..
Kent said he has been told by doctors that the surgery to clear arterial blockages is “high risk,” because of complicating factors, including Rogers’ diabetes and previous strokes. He also has battled weight problems most of his life..
Kent said he has petitoned the court to appoint a guardian to tend to Rogers’ affairs and make decisions for him.
Rogers grew up in the Rochester, N.Y., area. He came to South Florida in the mid-‘70s for a job at WJNO in Palm Beach. He moved to WKAT in Miami Beach in 1976. The following year, he became embroiled in the first of what would be many controversial incidents. At the height of Anita Bryant’s anti-homosexual campaign, Rogers came out on the air as gay, an almost unprecedented move for a media figure at that time.
There were no repercussions. If anything, Rogers’ career flourished. As his fame and ratings grew, he became in demand. WNWS hired him as the centerpiece of its talk station in 1979 and he quickly became the dominant personality in the market. He was recruited away by WINZ in 1979, then moved to its sister FM station, Zeta, three years later. WIOD lured him away in 1989 and he stayed there until 1997, when he jumped to WQAM, where he became the first known South Florida radio personality to be paid in excess of $1 million a year. WQAM bought out his contract in June 2009, sending him into retirement.
Kent said he has received several inquiries about Rogers joining other stations but Rogers vowed he would never work in radio agan.
Rogers was a radio rarity in that he was able to be a ratings topper in almost every part of the day, on AM and FM, doing serious issue-oriented topics or frivolous nonsense and comedy bits.
He also resisted overtures to take his act national via syndication.. Nevertheless, Talkers Magazine rated him the 15th most important talk host in the nation.