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Legendary Iowa Broadcaster and Radio Pioneer Don Forsling Passes Away

Long time Iowa broadcaster and public radio pioneer Don Forsling passed away this week.  

“I like my coffee black, like my soul.”

That was one of Don Forsling’s favorite one liners. Radio listeners loved him for his wry sense of humor and deadpan delivery.  He had a radio career that spanned more than 50 years, nearly forty of those years were spent at WOI radio in Ames, now part of the Iowa Public Radio network. 

Forsling held a number of different positions at WOI including station manager, but he is best known as the original host of “Talk of Iowa” and a morning variety show called, “The Morning Report” where his self-deprecating humor took center stage.

Forsling grew up in Sioux City and fell in love with radio early on, he was only 16 when he landed his first real radio job, hosting “Teen Time” on KSCJ. He earned a Political Science degree at the University of Iowa and then made his way to WOI Radio in Ames. 

Forsling was one of the early adopters of a more personal on air delivery. He shared his thoughts on that approach when he retired in February of 2006. 

“My approach, the thing that I think is most important…  is I try to use the word you a lot. It’s not much of a technique, it’s just the way I feel about the folks listening.  There’s something to that, it makes a difference to me and to those listening.”

Forsling was also an important part of the public radio revolution when public radio stations around the country were brought together as a network, and National Public Radio was created to provide content to those stations.  He was a member of the Board of Directors that guided the course of NPR as the service was getting started in the early 1970s.

When not on the air Forsling was happiest when could set off on his motorcycle in search of trains. He was an accomplished amateur photographer and trains were his favorite subjects. His best photos lined the walls of his office. His love of trains also influenced his musical taste and his listeners were well versed in all the best songs about trains. 

Don Forsling left the airwaves in 2006. Listeners have missed him, but we continue to benefit from the sound and the network he helped to shape.  Don Forsling passed away on February 6th at the age of 80.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa