Donna Halper: Radio, Religion and Rush
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Donna Halper is an associate professor of media at Lesley University. She is also in the process of leading an incredible life in radio as a music director, later as a consultant, and now as a professor of media. She is largely credited for breaking new bands including Rush when she was the music director of WMMS in Cleveland. We spent our time reconnecting as I had e-mailed her back in the 90’s to discuss radio. Our conversation dove-tailed to religion and ironically, I had no idea about the vital role she played in propelling the career of my favourite band, Rush. It wasn’t until 1999 when I finally made the connection.
This week, I decided that it was time to meet her for the first time and talk about some of the subjects that have been at the center of my life… religion, radio and Rush. Yes, I know that this episode runs longer than others but this is podcast and the only criteria for length is how compelling it is.
Just like Working Man which unapologetically runs twice the length of the average song, this episode will too.
So what happened when Donna played "Working Man"? Here's an excerpt from the Cleveland Plain Dealer from April 15, 2011:
"As soon as I dropped the needle on 'Working Man,' I knew this was a perfect record for Cleveland," she said."It was a working-class town. . . . I remember a city where Republic Steel would literally light the sky on fire at night with pollution."
Pictured: Rush poses with WMMS FM/100.7 staffers in 1974. From left are "Matt the Cat" Lapczynski of WMMS; Rush members Neil Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson; Donna Halper of WMMS, John Gorman of WMMS and Mercury Records representative Don George.
(Photo Credit: Donna Halper)
Donna also blogs and wrote a very nice tribute to Neil Peart in the weeks after his death. You can connect to it here.
As promised - here is the video from Rush's induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.