FROM OUR APRIL PRINTED EDITION
Donald P. McKeag
Talk Show Host, Author, Entrepreneur, Restaurateur, Innkeeper … Donald P. McKeag Did it All, and So Much More
Last year, Cape Cod radio listeners suffered a major loss when Donald P. McKeag ended his long-running, Saturday, two-hour conservative talk show. Now, his friends, neighbors, former listeners, and so many admirers are further saddened. Don, who was born in October of 1939, lost his long battle with cancer in late March.
Don, best known for his “Don McKeag Show” on WXTK radio, and his time co-hosting with Ed Lambert on WXTK’s morning show, spent nearly 30 years on and off the airwaves, using his unique talents and humor to “bring people’s attention to life and about gratitude for all that is around us.”
He would open most shows with short segments of music by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, Kenny Rogers and so many others, followed by a recap of the national sentiment. Don would then launch a monologue against liberals and their destructive programs. In his Irish humor, mixed with tenacity and determination, Don would “set the record straight” on many issues. After all, as he said, “this is the show where we educate, mediate, consolidate, coagulate, we infuriate, we infiltrate, we cooperate, but then we discombobulate, and sometimes, when it gets really bad from the Left, we have to hallucinate! But the one thing we never do is we never imitate.”
McKeag would often celebrate veterans and the community groups who provide so much to so many. Every show would contain several quotes (and yes, often repeated from week-to-week as he hammered home his message) from our forefathers and others, including the 16th century Martin Luther, perhaps the most notable reformer of the Christian church.
Don also dedicated large portions of his shows to talk about the world around him, the bucolic Cape, the blooming trees, the gardens, a tree in Centerville Village “with the blooms as bunches of grapes, hanging off with a purplish color…” Don often spoke of a higher power. Hyannis Port, Harwich, Falmouth, Carver, all of the Cape – he described the beauty around him, walks on the beach, time with friends, and gave oral histories of events and people from the ‘50s, ‘60, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and beyond.
With a great voice and talent at the piano, Don distinguished himself early on, and would often sing a few lines to his radio guests.
But, as firmly as he embraced and celebrated life, he also fiercely gave no quarter to the liberal mainstream media: “If you want more fear and angst and anger at the president [Trump] and those of us called conservatives, and our positions and our opinions,” Don told his listeners last year, “please do yourself a favor and return to your newspapers and the TV commentators, most of whom almost always will blame our president – unless he were a Democrat – for everything that is wrong in the world.” Don had no use for the Democrat Party Press (aka the liberal mainstream media).
“As a former teacher and a lover of history, and a lover of the kids, I believe, in most cases, [they] are being mistreated in today’s educational system because it is politically biased.” Don detailed in one of his weekly lectures: “Cicero said … not to know what was transacted in former times is to be forever a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge, which goes along with the saying, ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’” Don insisted that kids should be taught history not histrionics in the schools.
Don held the torch of conservative American values and blazed that torch brightly and proudly in his long-running radio career. He was often sought out as a speaker at political events and received numerous awards, including the Voice of Freedom Award from the Boston Broadside, presented to him at a huge Citizens for Limited Taxation meeting. Don received the award “for refusing to be silenced, for educating the populace on the principles of our republic and the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, and for giving voice to those oppressed by government.”
Don was a big opponent of liberalism, noting repeatedly its failings. “COVID? We have a virus that has been eating at the American basis for years; it’s called liberalism! Oh, you know nice people that are liberals, you know nice teachers that are liberals, you know nice people who have owned businesses who are liberals, but do you know what liberalism has done to this country?” He then went on to detail the destructive results of liberalism.
Don grew up in Weymouth. The family moved to the Cape in the early ‘50s. He was a teacher and a coach, later purchasing a small market, then moving on to other businesses, including formerly owning the Lamb and Lion Inn in Barnstable, the former Asa Bearse House (which you can read about in his book, “Well, At Least I Owned a Rolls Royce,”), The Flying Bridge harborside restaurant in Falmouth, and others.
His book, a memoir of his life, lays out all his trials and tribulations, ups, downs, successes and failures in life and in business. He explained that he “reluctantly” included several well-known names in his book, and his relationship and encounters with so many popular politicians, entertainers, and other celebrities at his restaurants and inn. He explained at one point that “I didn’t want to make it a book about name dropping, you know, my friendship with Ted [Kennedy], despite our political differences, and all the others, but I felt like I had to mention some stories because, after all, this is a book about my life, the good and the bad. Now, I’m thinking maybe I’ll do a second book just about more of those fun times and encounters. We’ll see.”
Don brought a mix of education, fierceness – he would tangle with a mountain lion, wrestle with a grizzly – and old-fashioned Irish humor to his show as he sought to hold the line and share the past and make sense of the present. He made our lives a better place and I, my bride of 33 years and at least one of my children, had the opportunity to meet him on numerous occasions, sit with him, chat with him, and share good times.
Don, you are surely amongst the angels now. And you’re probably driving a few of them crazy as you take charge and straighten out a few places in Heaven. Bless you, our friend.
Lonnie Brennan – The Boston Broadside