Emperor Rosko is a well known radio presenter. Born Michael Joseph Pasternak, he is the son of Hollywood film producer Joe Pasternak. He was influenced in his career choice by KYA Radio Los Angeles DJs Emperor Hudson and Wolfman Jack. Rosko’s opportunity to broadcast came whilst in the US Navy where he presented a show on an aircraft carrier. He then went to Europe and hosted sponsored programmes in France and Belgium.
He joined Radio Caroline, a pirate radio station broadcasting from a ship off the coast of England, in 1964. There, his pacey American style soon made Rosko one of the station’s best loved DJs. He then was heard on French language stations Radio Monte Carlo and Radio Luxembourg.
It is Rosko who is heard introducing soul singer Otis Redding, as well as encouraging the crowd to chant and spell his name on Redding’s album Live in Europe, recorded on March 17 and March 21, 1967.
As a disc jockey with Radio 1 at its launch in September 1967, Rosko initially recorded shows in France for the Midday Spin programme. On his first Midday Spin show, Rosko introduced himself like “I am the Emperor, the geeter with the heater, your leader, your groovy host from the West coast, here to clear up your skin and mess up your mind. It’ll make you feel good all over.” He highlighted the new Motown, reggae, and rock music. John Dunn, BBC news presenter who followed Rosko’s show, must have had some difficulty understanding Rosko’s ‘jive talk’ when he announced “Now here is the news – in English!”
Rosko moved to the UK in 1968, so was heard live on Radio 1. Along with fellow DJ Dave Lee Travis he launched the first mobile discothèque, the Rosko International Roadshow. Rosko is still active in Los Angeles performing as a DJ at parties under his Rosko Party Productions label.
From 1970 he presented the Friday Roundtable where new records were reviewed by a panel, and a Saturday lunchtime slot. He stayed with Radio 1 until September 1976, when he left for America to join his father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
He has since been heard on the Classic Gold network and REM.FM, his programme being pre-recorded in California. He is currently running Rosko Radio, his own soul station on Live 365. Rosko also broadcasts a programme called “The LA Connection” from his studios in California, which can be heard in the UK every Sunday at 4pm on 96.5 Bolton FM and across Europe on several stations including Central FM in southern Spain, and Radio Ayia Napa in Cyprus.
He also does a show at Forest FM Verwood, Dorset on a Saturday from 12:00-14:00pm, as well as Saturday nights on Vixen101, East Yorkshire. On 11 April 2009 he presented a three hour show within a BBC-sponsored commemorative broadcast from the lightship LV18 berthed at Harwich.
In December 2009 Rosko released the first of his ‘radio show’ series for the Boisdale restaurants, sponsored by Glenfarclas. The series kicked off with a Christmas holiday special, which can be heard playing at the restaurants over the festive period.
Rosko was the inspiration for the character “The Count” in the 2009 film The Boat That Rocked, known as Pirate Radio in the United States.