Ex-disc jockey facing sex charge dies at 78

Dave Herman, former radio host at WMMR, is dead at 78.

Radio personality Dave Herman died Thursday at 78.

  • Herman was in jail awaiting trial on charges in a child-sex sting.
  • He had pleaded not guilty to the federal charge, but was denied bail.

NEWARK, N.J. - Dave Herman, 78, a pioneering FM radio personality who was in a New Jersey jail awaiting trial on charges in a child-sex sting, died Thursday, his lawyer said.

Mr. Herman, who launched his prolific on-air career at Philadelphia's WMMR-FM (93.3) in the 1960s, died at University Hospital in Newark, attorney Marc Agnifilo said. Mr. Herman was rushed to the hospital late Wednesday from the county jail after complaining of chest pains, Agnifilo said. No official cause of death was announced.

Mr. Herman had been living in St. Croix, where he was arrested at the airport in October on a charge he tried to transport a 7-year-old girl to the U.S. Virgin Islands for sex. Herman allegedly had been awaiting the arrival of a 36-year-old single mother of a young daughter; authorities contended that he thought he had been communicating with her online and by telephone about arranging an illegal sexual encounter with the child.

Mr. Herman had pleaded not guilty to the federal charge, but was denied bail. Agnifilo had suggested that Mr. Herman was duped by an undercover police officer.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey said officials were moving to dismiss the charges, as is standard practice upon the death of a defendant.

Agnifilo said he hoped the case would not overshadow Mr. Herman's legacy.

"Some would say he lived his last months under a legal cloud, and that's true, but we should remember him for the decades he gave the gift of music to people," Agnifilo said.

Mr. Herman was a rock disc jockey in the late 1960s and '70s, when he began experimenting with free-form rock music programming, something that was novel at the time on FM radio, according to Paul Heine, a senior editor at Inside Radio, an industry trade publication.

After working at WMMR, where he launched a late-night show called The Marconi Experiment, he spent decades as a morning DJ at New York City's WNEW, where he remained until 1998, Heine said.