(July 15, 1936 - August 14, 2002)
Doug was best known for his readings on WOI Radio’s “The Book Club,” hosted the oldest continuous radio program in the United States - WOI’s “The Music Shop”, and at his death was described as “The Voice of Iowa.” He read more than 250 complete books on-air, and also numerous short fiction pieces, poetry and essays.
Everett Douglas Brown, who went by “Doug” from an early age, was born July 15, 1936 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and grew up on a farm near Mechanicsville, Iowa. As a young boy, he punched a hole in the middle of two cans and strung a rope between them. He made one of his younger brothers listen on one can while he pretended he was broadcasting on the can on the other end.
Doug began broadcasting sports at the age of 16 for WSUI, Iowa City. Subsequently, he worked at several radio stations in Cedar Rapids and Galesburg, IL and returned to radio announcing at WSUI in 1962. At the time of his recruitment by WOI AM/FM at Iowa State University in 1963 he was working at WSUI, and he had also won an invitation into the advanced repertory theater program at the University of Iowa.
Doug was best known for his readings on WOI Radio’s “The Book Club,” and at his death was described as “The Voice of Iowa.” He read more than 250 complete books on-air, and also numerous short fiction pieces, poetry and essays. He enjoyed visiting elementary schools and reading to students. He could adapt the voice of each character in a novel so that his readings sounded like several people were assuming parts. Doug was the only winner of the Governor’s Award for “The Best Arts Radio Program in Iowa”. Listeners often commented that they would be driving to a destination and wait outside until “The Book Club” was over before leaving the car.
Doug had an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music and hosted the oldest continuous radio program in the United States, WOI’s “The Music Shop”. He always began the program at 7:15 a.m. with a march. In addition, he performed with musicians. Examples are his narrating the Poulenc score of “Babar The Elephant” on tour with Chiu-ling Lin, pianist at Drake University, and narrating Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” with five Iowa symphony orchestras. He developed numerous productions of music and analysis in previews for the Des Moines Metro Opera and served on the Des Moines Metro Opera Board.
Doug grew up attending wrestling matches with his father at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA. At that time, Cornell had the reputation of producing championship wrestlers. That wrestling interest and knowledge landed him a position with Iowa Public Television Network announcing “College Wrestling” broadcasts for twenty-five years. In March, 1994, the National Wrestling Media Association recognized Doug as “Most Outstanding Media Person.”
Doug, a quiet, reserved individual, did not like the limelight, but over the course of his career received much publicity, including dozens of print profiles, the most widely circulated being one by Associated Press writer Roger Munn in 1985. Television features about him included a fifteen minute profile done by superstation WTBS in Atlanta, and another by Meredith Vierra on the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” in December, 1985.
Doug received an honorary doctorate from Grinnell College in 1984 for cultural contributions to the State of Iowa, and an honorary doctorate from Drake University in May 2002 for public service. He was featured in an interview in the Country Home magazine Christmas issue, 1994, in which he recommended the best Christmas music recordings.
Doug and his wife, Pat Brown, met while she was teaching high school English in Mechanicsville. They were married on 1962, and from their marriage came two daughters, Beverly and Lisa.
In 1998, Doug and Pat were recognized as “Citizens of the Year” for their service and volunteering by the City of Ames. Posthumously, Doug was awarded the 2003 “Impact Award” by the Iowa State University Alumni Association and the 2002 “Friend of Literacy” award by the Public Library of Des Moines Foundation. The Ames Arts Council created the Doug Brown Award in 2010 in his honor. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by persons in the media.
In the late 1990’s, Doug and Pat Brown, based on their view that public art makes a positive statement about a community, made a substantial gift to the City of Ames as seed money for an art fund to support a sculpture in Bandshell Park. The City raised $50,000 in additional support and, after a large number of proposals were received from sculptors throughout the country, contracted with Rhode Island artist William Culbertson to create what is known as the Ames Circle of Arts, a large sculpture of precast concrete and bronze located in the northwest corner of the park near Duff Avenue. It was installed in 2004.
Doug retired from WOI Radio in 1998. While still in a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, he died from stomach cancer in Ames on August 14, 2002.
Interim General Manager, WOI-AM/FM (1990-1992)
Senior Producer and Program Director, WOI-AM/FM (1974-1990)
Music Director, WOI-AM/FM (1967-1971)
Production Manager, WOI-AM/FM (1967-1971)
Production Assistant, WOI-AM/FM (December, 1963-1967)
Chair of Professional and Scientific Council (from inception in 1977-1980). Part of campus committee that wrote and presented to the Board of Regents the P&S employee personnel policies and procedures.
Founding member of the ISU P&S Council (1977-1983)
Campus committees included Fine Arts council for six years; P&S classification ad hoc review; employee Assistance Program committee.
Narrated numerous university media productions, including “Prairie Flower,” a multi-projector slide show that gave, in the 1970’s, a historical perspective about the evolution of the Iowa State Center.
Principal speaker at ISU Alumni Association meetings each year since 1979.
Professional organizations include Association of Music Professionals in Public radio; board member 1971-73 and 1979-1982 and president 1981-82.
Public Radio Program Directors Association 1983 until retirement; board member 1985.
ISU Superior Service Award, 1980
WOI Radio archives are maintained by University Archives, Special Collections, Iowa State University Library, Ames, IA.