Memphis-born Joseph Donald Wooten was sent, at the age of 17, to the seminary at St. Ambrose College by Bishop Adrian of the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee. After two years he left the seminary, but stayed on at St. Ambrose to pursue a degree in biology.
Don's first fulltime job was that of announcer for KWPC in Muscatine, Iowa in 1950. In 1952, he began a 19-and-1/2 year association with WHBF-TV in Rock Island, serving the station as announcer, producer, weatherman, and director of public affairs. He won nine state-wide awards for his "Spectrum" series, initiated the popular "At Issue" program, and was the only non-print journalist to be named to the Illinois State Medical Society's "Journalism Hall of Fame."
During those years, Don also helped edit the Catholic Messenger for the Davenport Catholic diocese, wrote music reviews for several newspapers and Commonweal magazine, taught six periods a day at Alleman High School in Rock Island (including English, Humanities, and chorus), and founded the Genesius Guild – free, classic theatre and opera performed during the summer in Rock Island's Lincoln Park – for which he remains the driving force.
In 1972, Don entered the political arena and won two terms in the Illinois State Senate; he served from 1977-1980 as chariman of the senate executive committee and was honored with 17 "best legislator" awards.
Then Don returned to his roots, combining his experience in broadcasting with his love for the arts. In August 1980 he began WVIK. Retiring after 22 years of service as General Manager in January of 2003, Don has continued to serve WVIK as host of Matinee, Saturday Morning Live, and Jazz After Hours. In addition, he writes weekly columns for the Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus, is a frequent guest lecturer in area schools, and serves as a board member for a number of local, state and regional arts organizations.
Wooten has been married for more than 50 years to Bernadette; the couple has five children: David, Christine, Steve, Teri, and Caecilia; and three grandchildren, Luke, Carl, and Haili Straka.