Milton Rosenberg, R.I.P.

Published January 10, 2018

With sorrow I advise of the death late on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at Chicago, of Milton J. Rosenberg.  Mr. Rosenberg died of pneumonia and its complications after entering the hospital on New Year’s Day.  He would have been 93 on April 15th.

Milt was a remarkable client and a treasured friend.  A full-time professor of psychology at The University of Chicago from the mid-1960s onward, he was also a fixture on Chicago radio, hosting “Extension 720”, a daily two-hour festival of intelligent talk on WGN-Radio, the flagship station of the former Tribune Company, for nearly 40 years, from 1973 until the end of 2012.

He was a polymath, a perceptive analyst, and a keen questioner.  These traits, combined with a prodigious memory born of wide reading and experience, made him an outstanding interlocutor of political leaders, business executives, academics, journalists, artists, and others in the long parade of guests whom he welcomed to his studios and to the extraordinary conversations that he then held for the benefit of millions of Americans listening to his program each night in their homes and cars across the nation as streamed by clear-channel radio at 50,000 watts.  For four decades his show was the mandatory first stop on the book tour of  every author of a serious work of fiction or non-fiction.

His career was also described by the arc of a moral conversion, carried out in public via his nightly broadcasts, from the “soft mindless leftism of an East Coast academic” to an embrace of free market economics, traditional social values, and an appreciation of the United States as the world’s best hope for the defense of freedom and human decency in global affairs.

Milton J. Rosenberg was born in New York City on April 15, 1925.  He earned his undergraduate degree at Brooklyn College, the A.M. at the University of Wisconsin, and the Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan in 1954.  Before joining the faculty of The University of Chicago, he taught at Yale University, the Ohio State University, Dartmouth College, and the Naval War College.

After the convulsions that broke up the Tribune Company and brought the long run of “Extension 720” to an end, Milt continued to broadcast on WCGO Radio in Chicago and via podcasts.

He married Marjorie Anne King on September 5, 1954.  They had one son, Matthew Rosenberg, now of Seattle.  His widow and his son survive him.  He is survived, as well, by two grandchildren;  by a devoted friend, Claire Fabvier;  and by thousands of students and millions of listeners who will no longer hear his voice probing the far reaches of the cosmos, the fine details of history and literature, and the depths of the human mind.

[Editor’s note: Milt was a good friend of The Heartland Institute, even providing a studio for him when he first began podcasting. Listen below to three podcasts in which Heartland folks were guests on his program to talk about the global warming debate. And also click here to listen to the very first Milt Rosenberg podcast with his guest, Mark Steyn.]

JULY 16, 2015