Mike "The Doctor" Gonsalves

Mike Gonsalves, 40; To late night fans, he was 'The Doctor'

He was the man whose voice kept Rhode Island rock 'n' rollers company through night's darkest hours. The Doctor -- also known as Mike Gonsalves, 40, of Warwick -- has been described by colleagues in the radio business as "a real Rhode Island character," a "true original," and simply as "a franchise" radio celebrity.

There are few people who could draw 4,000 people to the Dunkin' Donuts Center for a service; Mike did that. On March 1, fans and friends came to the arena for a memorial vigil.

"I liked his attitude," said one fan, Steven Coletta, 34, of Cranston. "He's funny. Anyone can call him."

For 17 years Mike hosted The Metal Zone, a Saturday night radio show dedicated to heavy-metal music. It was the longest-running heavy metal show in the country. The Doctor also took to the airwaves every Monday through Friday from midnight to 5:30 a.m., playing rock and heavy metal for nightshift workers and insomniacs.

On Friday mornings, he hosted the Legs & Eggs breakfast at the Foxy Lady strip club.

Mike broke into the radio scene with WHJY in 1986, the year he graduated from Rhode Island College. He hosted a program called "The Dr. Metal Show" for WRIC, the college's low-wattage radio station.

At WHJY, Mike first used the sobriquet "The Metal Doctor," which over time was truncated to The Doctor; around the station, friends just knew him as Doc.

Mike grew up in Providence in a white bungalow on the corner of River Avenue and Pleasant Valley Parkway, not far from Rhode Island College. His father, Neil, still works at the college as a biology professor.

Mike graduated from the former Our Lady of Providence High School, where he lettered in baseball and won All-State honors in tennis. He captained the Rhode Island College tennis team, and continued to play tennis throughout his life.

"Mike was very gracious in victory and defeat, and was very generous with line calls," said Paul Fuller, his tennis partner.

The Doctor's knowledge of rock 'n' roll and metal music was matched by his knowledge of baseball: last year, he assembled the best team in a baseball rotisserie league, winning the Federal League title with his entry called Legs and Eggs.

He also played softball and tennis at a high level. Although less than 5-feet-7 inches, he played basketball in a men's league; one player described him as "a waterbug" for the way he skimmed across a basketball court.

But his passion was music, particularly heavy-metal music. On WHJY's Web site, The Doctor listed among his favorite bands Metallica, Black Sabbath and Ozzy. Under "Rock Stars I've Partied With" he listed Chris Robinson, Slash, and Vince Neil. And under "Coolest Show I've Ever Seen," ranked in third place was a 1985 performance in Providence of Judas Priest and Great White.

On the night of the fire, Mike introduced Great White. That was the last time anybody heard the voice that comforted so many for so long through the darkness of night.

-- Gerald M. Carbone, Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003