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OBITUARIES / Don Herbert, 1935 - 2008

KFWB newsman led thousands to learn CPR

February 04, 2008|From a Times Staff Writer

Don Herbert, the KFWB on-air personality who joined the station when it converted to an all-news format in 1968 and remained there for 30 years, died Saturday of complications from colon surgery at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He was 72.

Born Herb Rosenblum in Brooklyn in 1935, Herbert majored in broadcasting at the University of Alabama. He worked in radio and television stations in Little Rock, Ark., and Washington, D.C., before arriving in Southern California. According to friends, he worked in Los Angeles as a television weatherman, children's show host and writer for game-show producer Chuck Barris.

Herbert joined KFWB when it switched from its pop music format to 24-hour news on March 11, 1968. He worked as an anchor and reported on many major news stories in the country that year, including the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tenn.

His interest in science and medical news led to what he considered one of his greatest accomplishments as a newsman, a series of reports called Operation Heart Start, which led tens of thousands of people to be trained in CPR.

After retiring in 1998, he wrote and published a history of KFWB called "We'll Have More Music Right After the News," a compendium of on-air bloopers committed by anchors and a history of news events in Southern California.

In the book, Herbert recalled being perplexed by the mathematics of KFWB's slogan: "You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world."

"That would give us a 66-minute hour," he told The Times some years ago. "How could that be, especially if we, as newscasters, were supposed to be accurate?"

According to a Times story from 2006, Herbert said that "two days after we started using that slogan, a postcard . . . came from a man who said, 'I gave you 22 minutes. You gave me the world. I didn't like it. I want my 22 minutes back.' "

Herbert is survived by his wife of 40 years, Linda, and two children, Brian and Meredith.

Funeral services will at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Eden Memorial Park in Mission Hills.

The family suggests that instead of flowers, donations be made to German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, 177F Riverside Ave. Suite 143, Newport Beach, CA 92663.

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