Please join us — Detroit Public Televsion, WRCJ 90.9 FM, Detroit Performs, and a great many other organizations and individuals — in honoring the legacy of broadcaster Bob Allison (Allesee) with “Bob Allison: 50 Years of Ask Your Neighbor,” online at dptv.org/boballison.
Mr. Allison died March 26. He will be remembered for innumerable many good works, including his support of Detroit, its people, and their good works. Mr. Allison enjoyed success as one of Detroit’s most recognizable broadcasters, and – along with his wife Maggie Allesee – his service as one of our region’s most active philanthropists, supporting countless community institutions and charitable causes.
Detroit Public TV honored the legacy of the iconic Bob Allison (who was born Bob Allesee) tonight, with the broadcast of “Bob Allison: 50 Years of Ask Your Neighbor,” a 2012 documentary marking his half century of producing a daily call-in radio show. The program was broadcast Monday, March 30 on DPTV Channel 56.
The film, produced by Todd Hastings, chart’s Allison’s life from his native Indiana to his adopted hometown of Detroit. He launched his career in 1962 on WWJ-950 AM with “Ask Your Neighbor” and later hosted Detroit’s “Bowling for Dollars” TV show, which aired at 7 p.m. weeknights, garnering a remarkable 50 percent share of all households watching television.
The documentary also covers Alison’s other pursuits in the worlds of music, athletics and business. He pioneered the call-in format on radio and provided vision for innovations that are now commonly used in broadcasting.
Allison’s service as one of our region’s most active philanthropists, supporting countless community institutions and charitable causes, is also captured in the film. Along with his wife, Maggie Allesee, he supported arts, culture and educational organizations across the city. His piano playing, storytelling and warm, wonderful voice, along with his wife’s joyful presence, were fixtures at the most important cultural events in our community.
Bob Allison, the legendary broadcaster, the man-about-town, the former Detroit Public TV board member, the father and husband, will be greatly missed.
Please join us as we honor his memory with the special simulcast of “Bob Allison: 50 Years of Ask Your Neighbor,” airing tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on DPTV – WTVS 56.1, and online at dptv.org/boballison.
Here’s how the Detroit Historical Society described him for his work on behalf of the city’s cultural institutions:
Bob Allison is a Detroit media personality, philanthropist, and host of the Ask Your Neighbor radio program. On February 5, 1962, Allison launched his daily radio show on WWJ-AM. The program consisted mainly of housewives calling in to share recipes and helpful tips with each other. More than 50 years later, Allison and Ask Your Neighbor are still going strong and can be heard weekday mornings on Detroit’s WNZK-AM (690). Allison’s real surname is Allesee, but for ease of audience pronunciation, it was simplified.
By the 1960s, Allison was a local celebrity. In addition to his work in radio, he appeared on TV as the Twin Pines Dairy milkman on the Milky’s Party Time kids show and was host of the popular series Bowling for Dollars.
His light, conversational radio show developed such a following that it continued even after WWJ converted to an all-news format in 1978. The advertisers on Ask Your Neighbor saw success and wanted the show to continue, so Allison bought air time at another station.
Now assisted by his son Rob, who acts as co-host and producer, Allison and his weekday broadcasts have changed little from their early days when listeners called in for long, leisurely minutes to describe a favorite recipe or reveal a house cleaning secret. His show is credited with helping to launch the broadcast careers of modern home improvement hosts Jerry Baker, Murray Gula and the late Glenn Haege. The program is now heard across North America and overseas via the show’s web page.
Today Allison and his wife, Maggie, are known as two of Metro Detroit’s most ardent philanthropists, committing time and millions of dollars to universities, health care organizations, arts groups and other worthwhile causes throughout the region.