Van’s comments on the passing of Larry Cotlar

Yesterday came the news that our good friend Larry Cotlar, was a casualty to the horrendous flash flooding in Des Moines Saturday night. Larry was in his vehicle near Merle Hay Mall on Twana Drive. He apparently was attempting to get through some water and got stuck in it. He got out and was swept away. His body was found several hours later.

Like so many other things in life, it seems these things just are not supposed to happen. Nobody likes shocking news. This was indeed shocking. My phone rang off the hook yesterday morning and my e-mail box filled up from people that knew Larry and I had been good friends for a long time.

Larry and I knew each other from the 70’s when I was on KRNT and he was on KCBC in Des Moines. In the wave of the disco phase, KCBC called themselves KC 14 and had the nerve to play all disco music, which was a big hit for about a week and a half. Then they switched to album rock, which was also quite a gamble for an AM station. KCBC has been long gone for a long time, but I remember Larry and me talking about his days of playing that album rock. He especially liked “Bad to the Bone,” by George Thorogood.

The next thing I remember about Larry was his getting hired by WHO Radio to do sports with Jim Zabel and Mike Newell. He was a pretty good sports talk show host too. Then in 1986, when I was hired by WHO to do a new morning show called, “Van and Patti in the Morning,” management selected Larry to be our morning news anchor. The format of that morning show is virtually unchanged today, which is miraculous in the radio world today. Patti left. Connie Murad took over for 6 years. Then Bonnie Lucas came in and has been doing it for well over 20 years.

We had so much fun with Larry on and off the air. To this day people still remind me of a bit we did with Larry on Friday mornings, called “Great Guests.” After his 7:15 sportscast we would gloat on the air about what an amazing week it had been on the show, yet it would be nothing compared to the guests we would have in the next week. I would say, “These aren’t just GOOD guests! These are……” and there would be a pause and we’d all yell out, “GREAT GUESTS!” Then I would read a list of made up names that sounded like those of famous people and explain who they were. It was so stupid it was good! People loved it. At first I wrote them all. Then Larry asked me if I minded if he took a crack at writing some sports great guests. He did and they were probably better that the ones I wrote.

When I became program Director I had Larry doing all sorts of things. He did lots of state tournament basketball games. So many that he would almost always lose his voice near the end of the week. He hosted “Sound Off,” the show that follows Iowa Hawkeye football games. People either love you or hate you when you do that, and he found both.

Then he was offered a job as a sports call in host at a national sports network which broadcast out of Las Vegas. We hated to see him go but off he went. He was very good at that and was there for a number of years, until he returned to Des Moines, which he always loved.

WHO picked up the old KSO 1460 frequency. I was the Program Director for that as well and we flipped it to a sports format and called it KXnO. Larry was of immense help with that and hosted a show. A Des Moines Register columnist wrote an article about what idiots we were because there were already 2 other sports stations on in Des Moines. When he asked me about it I told him, “That’s right. And one will survive.” It did. KXnO.

Larry called me one day and said he was writing a book about his sports connections and escapades. He knew I had written a book and wanted advice. He finished his book appropriately called, “The Biggest Rolodex in Sports.” He gave me a copy. I read it, called him and said, “Larry, this is not just a GOOD book. This is a GREAT book!” He howled.

So, there are many business related, professional stories for sure. But the thing I’ll miss the most about Larry is his friendship. He’d gone through a lot. I’ve been through a lot. I guess we all go through a lot. But we shared it with one another and really cared. Sorry we never got to say our final good byes in person Larry, but you know my heart is saying it here!

Update from Van

It's Transition Time for Van. Here's a Note he Sent to His WHO Radio Staff

After the honor of nearly 30 years of being here at WHO, I have decided to retire from the administrative side of my duties as Program Director, while continuing to do the morning show. Joel and I have talked about this for a long time, and I’m honored the company wants me to continue doing mornings.

The company has asked me to be a part of picking a new program director, and you may soon see, or hear about, ads in trade magazines. There is no time line other than, when we find the best person, that person will be hired, but the search has begun.

In watching other retirements, I always thought it was a little hokey when the person talked about family and grandchildren. But with 5 grandkids now, and another one the way, I now get it.

I’d be happy to speak to any of you about any of this. As always, my door is open.


About Van

Author, Inventor, Teacher, Radio Personality

Van grew up in Adel, Iowa, just outside Des Moines. Being an only child, his parents reported he was an extremely creative and inventive child. Kindergarten through 12th grade he walked across the street to school every day. He attended Drake University in Des Moines where he received a B.A. in Radio TV journalism in 1973.

Radio has always been a passion for Van, spending a lot of time tuning and listening as a youngster. In 1971 Van got his first radio job at KDLS FM in Perry, Iowa, and after graduating from Drake, was named Program Director at the station. In 1974 he became the morning air personality at KWEN in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he stayed for a year before returning to Iowa.

In 1975 Van became an air personality at KRNT Radio in Des Moines, where he spent a total of 10 years, with a two year break in between when he worked for the American Lung Association of Iowa as Development and Public Relations Director.

In 1986 Van moved across town to host the morning show on 50 thousand watt WHO Radio. In 1987 he was also named Program Director. After joining the station, WHO's morning show quickly became the most listened to radio program in the state of Iowa.

In 1991 Van began hosting a daily television program on WHO TV. That local variety show aired for four years.

While continuing to work at WHO, in late 1991, Van and a business partner bought KLSN FM Radio in Jefferson, Iowa, which they owned for two years, then sold.

Under Van's leadership WHO Radio has won thirteen national Marconi awards from the National Association of Broadcasters, five of which were awarded to him personally as medium market personality.

In 2004, Van invented the DayTeller® timepiece, and the Van Harden Cheese Crust Pizza. In 2013, Van published his first book, Life in the Purple Wedge.

Life in the Purple Wedge

Change Everything by Finding Yourself on Life’s Map

If you are experiencing joyous times, you know how good it feels and how you’d like to have them more often. If you’re struggling through toughs times, you know how unfair and stressful life can be. Or, perhaps you feel empty - maybe because tough times have worn you down and you feel defeated. Or perhaps there is no obvious reason at all.

Whether you’re in a time of joy, defeat, or emptiness, this book is for you.

Life in the Purple Wedge offers a clear guidance and tremendous perspective as to where you actually are right now in your life. There’s nothing more grounding and assuring than knowing where you are, from where you’ve come and where you are going. From this amazing “big picture” angle, you’ll find that your life and daily routine look entirely different.

Author Van Harden is known nationally for his creative broadcasting career and inventions. Through his 27 year leadership as Program Director of 50 thousand watt WHO radio in Des Moines, the station has been awarded 13 national Marconi Awards, the radio equivalent of the Emmy, five of which he has received personally for his own morning radio program, which he has hosted for those entire 27 years.

He has also owned a radio station and hosted a TV show, but more important to Van has been his 30 years as an adult Bible teacher. He has taught and spoken in many churches and denominations, but has always insisted on teaching straight out of the Bible, which he calls “our owner’s manual.”

Hear Chapter One of Life in the Purple Wedge Read by

Book Reviews and Testimonials

“I have loved your book so much that I took my Mom a copy. She read it Friday night and wants to purchase 3 copies of your book for her small group. We are going to purchase 3 for our Hope small group.”
“I read the whole "Purple Wedge" book before I went to interesting that Van has been an Adult Bible teacher for 30 yrs...I'm SURE you DO gain lots of insights doing that...which Van surely has. I'd like to get more for me to give as gifts to my Church Small Group...I'm sure they would find it interesting, also.”
“I read the entire book last night and loved it! I have always known that I am heading for Heaven for eternity, but I have never heard it explained exactly like you have done in your book. Isn’t it amazing that when you start out that red circle seems so big, but as you read through the book, that red circle seems to get smaller and smaller. If you believe in God, you put that red circle in perspective with eternity . I’m not a great reader and I have trouble staying with a book, but once I started The Purple Wedge, I didn’t want to stop. My wife could not believe I had read the entire book and so she is reading it this morning. You’ve done such a good job in writing this book. Thinking about what you wrote is one thing, actually sitting down and writing is an entirely different experience and you have done it well. My sense is that a lot of people will be touched by your book and I am one of them.”
“When I first looked over the book; I noticed the large print, thinking this will be a quick easy read. Because I enjoy reading old reformed books, I arrogantly thought that this would be a pretty simplistic look at Christianity. Well it is, and it isn’t. The red circle, with points of life and death on either side is simple enough, then add that blue eternal rectangle over the part of the circle representing the point of salvation and you have a mental, visual example of life in the purple.

Again, simple enough, but it has really stuck with me. When I’m frustrated, or down right angry about the politics of the world, or the family problems and even simple traffic problems, my narrow world becomes an awful place to be, until I recognize that indeed “all things work for the good of those who love the Lord”, and despite my initial reaction to life’s disappointments, I generally come to the conclusion that whatever happened, happened just as it should, for God’s purpose. Van’s purple wedge has been an even better reminder that Christians are in the world and in the kingdom of heaven. Christ is here, with us, knowing all our joys and sorrows, as well as in heaven. WHAT A THOUGHT! To live in that purple wedge should be easy as pie… not so because that human sin nature continues to warp our thoughts and actions, but this little gift gives me yet another tool to help me remember that I am a member of the Kingdom of Christ and nothing can take that away from me.

Just as Christianity is simple and complex in it’s variations…so is Van’s little book!”
I really think this book Life in the Purple Wedge will be received as popular as the Purpose Driven Life in it's universal appeal.
"Wow! Boy is that a great book. I will certainly recommend this to our Pastor and I will be sending a copy to each of my children and brothers as well. He presents it with such clarity and simplicity, yet with a depth of understanding that others can not articulate. 'In this world, but not of this world.' Thanks for placing that in my path and God bless you."
"My wife gave this to me as a gift. It is short, simple to read and the print is large, but the great thing is the message. I never thought of my walk with Christ in the way you lay it out, but the diagram is right on track. In the past I was living for "me," not "He," as you say."

The Dayteller Clock

A Unique, Easy-to-Read Clock

The only clock in the world with a BIG, unabbreviated, easy-to-read display of the day name. It's radio controlled, which means it is frequently synchronized by a radio signal. Set it & forget it!

Necessity is the mother of invention. But in this case, Mother was the necessity for invention. Here’s the story. Van created the DayTeller for his Mother who was having trouble knowing which day of the week it was. The results was a unqiue clock which became so popular it completely sold out after several manufacturing runs.

What People are Saying About the DayTeller

“Just wanted to pass along my thanks for your DayTeller calendar clock. I just placed an order for a family friend. Earlier this year my sister ordered one for my mother who is 87 and has Alzheimer’s. She was frequently confused and stressed because she didn’t know what day it was. That one small purchase has made a world of difference for my mother, given her back some dignity and greatly improved her quality of life. I am now ordering one for a family friend and would highly recommend this product. Thanks for being there!”
“This is my 2nd order of your DayTeller clock. My 88 year old Mom is GREATLY helped by this clock. Thank you so much!”Jacqueline, Minnesota
“While visiting with our Financial Planner and were discussing our parents. I admitted that my mom was experiencing not being able to recognize what day of the week it is. Sometimes we tell her several times during the day. I said it would be nice to find something to help and he (Bill Brantley) gave me the info and website. Thank you for this magnificent invention.”
“Thanks so much for making this clock available. My father has the paper delivered daily just so he will know what day it is and still gets his medications messed up at times. He also has cataracts and could not see the small day display that is included on some digital clocks. Has to use a magnifying glass to see the date on the paper.”
“This is exactly what I have been looking for. My mother has some memory loss and keeping track of the days is almost impossible. Thank you.”
“I just bought one (DayTeller) online - feels like yesterday - and love it so much that I have to buy one for my parents, my sister, and my best friend.”
“Please ship ASAP. FYI--I am ordering for my mother, who has Alzheimer's and can never remember what day it is. Your clock is a wonderful idea. I'm amazed there aren't more on the market.”
“This was perfect!! My mother has now been diagnosed with dementia and this is just what she needs. Thank you!“
“I received the day teller clock so promptly. Thank you. My mom has dementia / Alzheimer's and is having such a hard time knowing what day it is. She is still living by herself at the present and we are just trying everything to make it easier for her. Thanks so much.”

More Info

Actual size of the DayTeller is 8" x 8" x 1/2". Day of week & time are 1" tall. Works in the 48 contiguous United States!

Cheese Crust Pizza

No Bread! No Kidding!!

Cheese Crust Pizza is delicious pizza with a crust that is 100% cheese.

Here’s the story. In 2004 after a lawn mowing accident, Van spent three weeks in the hospital and had 3 surgeries. All were successful and Van is fine, but one thing changed; his appetite. Van no longer has an appetite for bread, which had been a staple in his diet of sandwiches, burgers and pizza. With no other change in diet or exercise Van lost 77 pounds. (By the way, Van does not recommend the "foot under the mower" diet). Van told his wife the only thing he missed was pizza. So they discussed how a pizza might be made without bread. After much experimentation, including many fiascos, Van created a crust that resembled a bread crust, and was similar in consistency, yet was made completely of cheese. After topping and serving it to his wife and others, they raved about it, many saying it was better than ordinary pizza.