Don Lancer, 68, veteran of KYW NewsRadio

Posted: April 26, 2011

Don Lancer, 68, of King of Prussia, a news anchor and business reporter at KYW NewsRadio from 1970 to 2008, when he gave up his job to keep others from being laid off, died of lung cancer Monday, April 25, at his home.

On Dec. 21, 2010, Mr. Lancer wrote on his blog, "I quit smoking, both my wife and I did, about 8 years ago. . . . Anyway, I recently went into the hospital for 7 days."

On Jan. 26, he wrote: "I haven't blogged in a while because I am still in chemo and don't want to bother you with it all."

In February 2008, Inquirer columnist Michael Klein reported that Mr. Lancer, "the station's dean with 37 years of service (minus a short stint as a talk-show host), and South Jersey bureau chief Ed Kasuba, a 33-year veteran, have volunteered to retire." Mr. Lancer's 38th year with the station would have been marked later in 2008.

Klein wrote that "CBS Radio - slashing jobs around the country, including a dozen at its five Philadelphia stations - had sought two newsroom 'voluntary separations.' . . . Layoffs were threatened, a station source said."

In August 1997, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that in September 1996, Mr. Lancer had left KYW "for a fling as a talk-show host on sister station WPHT (1210 AM). . . . Lancer's returning next month to his old post at 1060, where he had done business reports."

In comments on the station's website, Harry Donahue, "a longtime Lancer colleague," stated that Mr. Lancer "loved putting together an entertaining show, an informative show, and he could do it with style."

In a phone interview Monday, Bill Roswell, director of digital news and media at KYW, said he had seen Mr. Lancer's daily effort since he joined the station in 1980.

When he was a daytime news anchor, Roswell said, Mr. Lancer "was on the air for a total of three hours, with five hours" of preparation.

At the beginning of a shift, there were "three hours to have the newscast ready and then on the air for an hour."

"And then off for another to get ready for the next newscast and back on for another hour," with another preparation hour for the third hour's newscast.

Roswell said Mr. Lancer took his last name "from a car in the parking lot of a radio station" where a boss required him to change his name. His given name was Donald E. Kelsh Jr.

Mr. Lancer was born in Auburn, N.Y., and graduated from Central High School there.

Roswell said Mr. Lancer "came here from Buffalo, WKBW radio, where he was news director."

"Before that, he had worked for a year at WIFE radio in Indianapolis . . . and before that at WOLF radio in Syracuse, where he did a record show."

Mr. Lancer's wife, Diane, said that the couple, married in 1963, had been "very heavily involved" since 1974 helping run weekend sessions with the Roman Catholic movement Marriage Encounter.

Its website says the emphasis of the "marriage enrichment program is on communication between husband and wife, who spend a weekend together away from the distractions and tensions of everyday life, to concentrate on each other."

At Mother of Divine Providence Parish in King of Prussia, Mr. Lancer had been chairman of the school board and the parish council.

A reader of Scripture at Masses in his parish, he taught other readers at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, as well as recording books for the blind.

Besides his wife, Mr. Lancer is survived by daughters Shelley Marsh and Robin Kelsh, two sisters, and two grandchildren.

Viewings were set from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at the Bacchi Funeral Home, 805 DeKalb St., Bridgeport, and from 10 to 10:50 a.m. Thursday, April 28, at Mother of Divine Providence Church, 333 Allendale Rd., King of Prussia, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass there. Private burial is to be in Calvary Cemetery, Lower Merion.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or

comments powered by Disqus