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February 17: The Radio Station Philanthropist

February 17, 2015

NYT-1000503104-ROSENMILLERJ_1_012544Joseph Rosenmiller, who became a radio station millionaire and donated much of his fortune to causes like voting rights and the improvement of the lives of domestic workers, was born in York, Pennsylvania on this date in 1925. In 1956 he and fellow Yale alumnus, Peter A. Bordes, purchased an AM radio station in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They eventually owned Greater Media, Inc., which controlled stations in top-10 markets, a well as cable television franchises in Philadelphia, Detroit and western Massachusetts. In 1994, Rosenmiller sold his share of the business and founded the Solidago Foundation in Northampton, Massachusetts, which by his death at 87 in 2012 had donated some $40 million to community groups focusing on New York’s domestic workers bill of rights (adopted in 2010), ranked-choice voting (which allows voters to cast ballots for their top three choices in ranking preference, which eliminates the “wasted vote” concept), and efforts to control corporate environmental damages.

“Solidago is the Latin term for the goldenrod plant, whose name means, ‘to strengthen or make whole’. Inspired by this widespread and strong-rooted plant, the Foundation seeks non-traditional and creative approaches to deep-rooted social problems that address the institutionalized disparities of wealth, resources, power and opportunity. Solidago supports building progressive organizations and alliances for lasting structural change of unjust systems.” —Solidago