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Former WATZ General Manager ‘Uncle Don Rhea’ Passes

Uncle Don Rhea

The MAB has learned that former WATZ-AM/FM (Alpena) General Manager Don Rhea passed away June 20 at the age of 88.  Born Jack D. Rhea in 1931, he was known professionally as “Uncle Don Rhea.” Rhea spent more than 25 years on-air at KCKN-AM/FM in Kansas City, Kansas  He also put KBUC-FM, San Antonio, Texas, on the air as well as guiding KQIL-FM in Grand Junction, Colo., to number one in that market as Operations Director.

The Mayors of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, joined together to proclaim “Don Rhea Day.” As a Music and Program Director, he is credited with breaking many hits, including “Almost Persuaded” by David Houston, “Flowers On The Wall” by the Statler Brothers, “Snowbird” by Anne Murray and many more.

In 1986, Rhea was hired by Ross Biederman to serve as General Manager of WATZ-AM/FM (Alpena).  He retired in 1995 to Shell Knob, Missouri.

In 2004, he was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame.

Rhea was always active in the community, spending 25 years in scouting, as a leader, trainer and commissioner, receiving the BSA’s Silver Beaver Award. He was a Country Commissioner in Grand Junction, and a District Commissioner in Alpena.  He is survived by his wife Harriet Rhea, of Shell Knob; five sons, Alan Rhea and Sam Rhea, both of Shell Knob, John Rhea, of Emerald Beach, and Mike Rhea and his wife Lisa, of Alpena, Michigan; and thirty-five grandchildren.  No services have been announced.

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