Each morning, I am awakened by WKWI, our local radio station in Kilmarnock.
For many years after Mildred and Dean Loudy established the station in 1975, Dean handled the early morning on-air broadcasting, along with Tom Davis. Each of them has a delightful, piquant sense of humor, and each could relate to his audience as if meeting the listeners in person.
When Mildred and Dean retired, I asked him who would wake me up each morning, and he replied that, for a fee, he would be happy to call me on the telephone at the appointed hour. I did not pursue subsequent negotiations as I thought I probably could not afford the end result.
Dean always could be relied upon to deliver the right message to get the day off to a good start. In the afternoons and evenings, Dean met his match in the late Bill Goss, who was gifted with a similar level of repartee. Bill could make announcing a song to be played an uproarious listening experience. Bill had served in the Marines, and he could be quite direct in his musical commentary.
One afternoon each week, the late Dorothy Evans arrived at the station with some of her collection of old-time records to entertain everyone with their nostalgic music and her own pithy comments, including sending personal greetings to dozens of people in the community. She called her show, “Teatime with Dorothy.” She actually had built her own network based on her radio broadcasts. After her eyesight failed, she had to be driven in to the station from her home in upper Lancaster, but she was undaunted in proceeding as she always had in years past.
Since the Loudys retired, a number of folks have stepped in to fill that early morning slot; most recently, Nancy Travers for the first three days of the work week and Dennis Burchill for Thursday and Friday. Dennis is clearly the heir of Dean Loudy’s level of give-and-take, accentuating local, statewide, and national news with his own sometimes, off-the-wall command of hilarity.
The apogee of Dennis’ morning performance always comes at 7:15 when he pontificates on the significance of the day in history, followed by reading out the celebrity birthdays, and concluding with his recitation of the local birthdays and anniversaries.
As he proceeds through the routine, the audience becomes privy to Dennis’ culinary likes and dislikes as well. If anyone is planning to ask him over for dinner, I recommend listening in for a couple of weeks prior to sending the invitation in order to know what not to serve. Dennis is a master of satire, with punctuating remarks that continue to resound with his listeners long after he has uttered them.
When he gets to the celebrity birthday list, he shares with his audience the opportunity to become aware of his personal entertainment preferences—thus, before sending that invitation, listen in also to know what not to play as background music. Finally, in the recitation of the local birthdays and anniversaries, Dennis finds his true forte. He places all of the everyday folks on the pinnacles they might otherwise not experience, particularly with those achieving significant age or especially lengthy marriages, thereby recognizing their accomplishment before the entire community.
As tomorrow is Dennis’ birthday, if he does not mention the occasion on the air, readers can say that they already have seen that item of “local news” here first. Happy Birthday, Dennis! You and Nancy are worthy legatees of the golden era of Dean Loudy’s morning performances, or perhaps I should say, “pronouncements from on high.” Ad multos annos!