the “Voice of Flint” radio
Les Root, “the voice of Flint” for 50 consecutive years, remains a living legend in the radio industry. A survivor of the fiercely competitive news wars of the ’70s and ’80s, he deals in austere times as the only full-time radio news broadcaster in the city and Genesee County.
For the past 50 years, Root has covered nearly all the big stories including the rise and fall of General Motors, the mayoral recall and state-ordered financial takeover of Flint city government, the Kayla Rolland elementary school murder and the rise of filmmaker Michael Moore.
Former employees note his eye for spotting and nuturing young talent, along with honesty and integrity throughout his professional life.
Root’s resonant voice fills the airwaves on four Flint radio stations now owned by Cumulus Media, one of America’s largest radio chains. They include WDZZ (FM) Flint; WWCK (AM) and WWCK (FM) Flint and WRSR (FM) Owosso. He has endured six ownership changes and four more station acquisitions.
Root pounds the pavement and reports the news every morning, lugging an audio recorder and microphone to Flint City Council meetings, says Patrick M. Clawson, a friend and former employee: “For decades, he (Root) has risen from bed hours before the roosters crow to bring accurate and unbiased news to our community. . .his peers in broadcasting have dubbed him ‘The Dean of Michigan Radio News’ and the moniker has stuck because it is so accurate.”
Clawson calls Root the brains behind a successful radio news show, WFDF-Flint. He beat the competition with City Hall, General Motors and police scoops, without formal journalism training. “Many radio broadcasters in the Seventies used to “rip ’n read” the Associated Press wire or the local newspaper for their news content. Les Root wanted original scoops. He demanded that his reporters burrow deep into the community and break original stories with local audio actualities,” Clawson says.