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Steve Dahl appreciation comes 25 years too late

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DISCO DEMOLITION DISC JOCKEY STEVE DAHL IN 1979.jpg
Steve Dahl will always be remembered for the "Disco Demolition" publicity debacle he spearheaded at the old Comiskey Park.

If you live in Chicago and consume any media at all -- especially radio -- you're probably familiar with radio personality Steve Dahl. The 30-year veteran told his listeners this morning that he's leaving WJMK-FM 104.3.

Growing up in suburban Batavia, my mother listened to Steve Dahl every time she got into her Pontiac Bonneville station wagon, and then in her Honda Accord, then in her Saturn coupe and finally in her Nissan Maxima until my parents finally shipped off to Alaska. (Good lord, that's a middle class lineup of automobiles!)

By sitting in my mother's car -- a common occurance in the life of any child -- I, by proxy, became an unwilling Steve Dahl listener.

To be totally honest, I hated Steve Dahl growing up. I despised every moment I had to listen to him. Imagine as a child being forced to sit in a room and listen to the most inane conversations adults could possibly have interspersed with entirely unfunny 'bits' and you have some idea of the misery I felt.

To be fair, I wasn't Dahl's target demographic.

I don't keep a radio in my apartment because I've never been a fan of antiques. I also don't own a a car because I love the CTA. So it's rare that I would get a chance to hear his show anymore. I didn't actually know the station he's leaving existed until 20 minutes ago.

But I did randomly catch a snippet of his show a while back while sitting in a friend's car. His voice ... un-radiolike, blue collar, prone to pregnant pauses ... was the exact same as when I was forced to listen to him growing up. And I was eight years old again. Miserable.

But something had changed. I can't recall the specifics of what he was talking about, but I remember that I was interested.

I realize now what a Chicago radio icon Dahl is. And I know that his departure signifies a larger trend -- typified by people like myself no longer consuming traditional radio -- that is affecting media as a whole.

We're approaching the end of an era -- a changing of the guard, if you will. It's a new guard that I'd wager is currently boring children to death. So I guess some things really never do change.

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Kevin Matthews, the radio personality who has cultivated large followings in Chicago and Grand Rapids, returned to the airwaves of WLAV-FM this morning after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.We wish him the best.Much like my counterpart's relati... Read More

18 Comments

Where'd you find that awesome picture of a young Dwight Schrute?

HAH, that is a young Dwight Shrute!

Steve Dahl is an icon if only for the Disco Sucks stunt. I heard about that a ton. But if he's from Chicago I'm sure the Nuttcups will give him big ups. We're sad to see you go, Steve: http://fiturl.com/0kg

good he was HORRIBLE!

i hope he's popping up on another station!
it would be so funny if he wound up on wgn

CBS radio, Todd Cavanaugh and the team that decided to follow inaccurate new and un-reality proven ratings systems should be ashamed of themselves. Steve Dahl and his entire radio team were true assets to Chicago radio. Not only were they the reason sometimes that I found tough days palatable (as any good radio host should - I mean it is about entertainment and betterment of the listener) but they were not canned music/programming that talked to the lowest common denominator. They made us feel better, laugh out loud, challenged our opinions and entertained.

As someone who has filled out the Radio ratings journal prior to this new system, where I indicated that not only did I listen to Steve at WCKG but when he moved to Jack I stopped listening to another show and switched to 104.3 just because of Steve, I am insulted with this change.

I understand business so CBS radio let me be very clear. As long as you do not pay true attention to the real listeners and not inaccurate data we will not listen to you. Personally, I wasn’t going to renew my Sirius subscription but now I am. Moreover we will not support advertisers that advertise on your stations - WCKG, JackFM, B96 and the like. So CBS Radio advertisers (Taco Bell, Walgreens, Geico, David Hockburn, US Cellular, Lettuce EntertainYou Restaurants, Fresh Diet, etc) please pay close attention - you will no longer be getting my business which you solely did in the past due to your affiliation with the Steve Dahl show.

CBS Management you negatively impact our lives (which by the way you are supposed to serve the public not your bottom line) we will negatively impact yours. Radio is a business and I am your consumer so you might want to pay attention.

Life long listener of Steve Dahl and smart devoted fan.

Dahl is snooze city on the radio. I used to like that Jack FM played music in the mornings.

Also to KOufax..The only thing less funny than Steve Dahl is your Digital Funtown site. That Dave was the only funny thing on your site and he left. Racist Cartoon Animals = not funny.

"Not for Midget's Only"... the one time TV special by Steve and Gary in the late 70's was a shining moment in Chicago broadcasting... or so remember anyway. I was 9 and laughed at all I found funny and laughed at what I didn't understand but my older brother found funny. I have long lost the beta tape I we made of it... anyone know where to get a copy?

Although I am very fortunate to have a job, I have to admit there are days that I wish I didn't. The ONLY bright spot on my drive to my dreaded place of employment was listening to Steve and Buzz. Admittedly, Steve was irreverant, crude, and politically incorrect. But that was a breath of fresh air compared to the other drivel on the radio. I will sorely miss my daily laugh therapy and reality check that Steve delivered without fail. CBS Management made yet another POOR decision! Guess I'll be resetting my radio to god knows what but definitely not Jack FM!!!

Yeah, Steve Dahl is the best. I hope he does not hang up his hat. If he switches to satellite radio, I may be willing to then, and only then purchase it. I love Steve, Buzz and I think Wendy was great too.
Steve and Garry back in the day was the best.
I will miss Steve and hopefully he finds a staion to call home.
Won't be listening to Jack FM any longer either.

i am soooooooooooooooooooooo sad. i'll miss steve and buzz like the old good friends they are to me.

I remember listening to Steve on WDAI before he moved to the LOOP and partnered up with Garry. I was at Disco Demolition. There was a time when Chicago radio had the biggest pool of talent on earth on one station including Steve, Garry, Johhny B, Kevin Matthews, Beth & Tim and even Danny Bonaduce...those were good times. Steve himself was a ground breaker back in the day and, like he said on Friday, has recently been doing the best radio of his career. The fact that Johnny B is back on the LOOP in the mornings gives me hope that Steve will be back someday too, but who knows. Personally, I never listened to Jack FM or even WCKG...I listened to the podcasts of Steve's show from Dahl.com. We'll miss you Steve (and Buzz)!

I have listened to Steve for most of his time in Chicago. I've followed him to whatever station and time slot he went to. I leave the radio off on my drive home- there is literally NOTHING on worth listening to; mornings will be the same now I guess. If I REALLY want to hear an Eddie Money song I'll download it.
I know that the Jack hook has been "we do what we want" but cancelling steve? Now they've convinced me that they really don't give a crap what the listener wants.

I completely agree with Amanda's post. It's unfortunate that the show was doomed from the beginning due to Todd Cavanaugh's relentless meddling. It became blatantly obvious that Todd was making Steve change and augment the natural flow of the show in a stupid attempt to make it fit in a generic terrestrial radio format.
Hey Todd... Good luck "playing what you want", because I won't be listening. Your canned 80's music format is boring, lifeless, and humorless. Take your statistics and modern radio philosophy and JACK it!

CBS has made a HUGE mistake, and I agree that the advertisers will be unhappy when they lose the customers that they used to get from the Steve Dahl Show. I will follow Steve wherever he goes. I just hope I don't have to wait 2 1/2 years, that is way too long to go without him. And there is NOTHING else to listen to.

I will miss Steve. I have been a fan for years and hopefully and will be back on the air sometime soon. The who JACK tribute thing was lame and phony. They were firing Steve and Buzz yet they made tried to make it seem like the two of them had decided to leave under their own accord. I mean Todd Cavanaugh and CBS must really think that Steve's listeners are idiot if we thought we'd be touched by that. How many weeks was it recorded in advance?

No marketing (Saab squad = big insulting joke), no support, constant meddling, Ball Room Blitz, etc, etc. It seemed that management was working against Steve every step of the way. Almost as if they were trying to get him to quit.

What a shame and what a waste. Music radio is pretty much dead. You can get almost any song you want online. What makes radio different is the personalities of it's on air talent, not the music tastes of it's program managers. The new rating system is flawed because all the ppms measure is if they pick up a signal and for how long. It could be picking up elevator music or background music that noone is really paying attention to. It doesn't measure if people really enjoy what they're listening too.

When I hear Steve and Buzz talk about Taco Bell, it makes me want go there and buy a taco. When I hear a taco bell commercial in between some songs, I tune it out because I am focusing on some thing else. You think somebody at CBS would understand this? Don't they understand that most people don't listen to commercials after hearing 3 or 4 songs in a row? That's when everyone's in the bathroom.

Good riddance.

I'm 61 years old and have listened to Steve on and off as long as I can remember. When I first started listening to Steve and Gary I thought Steve was a buffon. When he and Gary split I kept listening simply because I really struggled with the other offerings in the Chicagoland area. As I got older I came to realize he and I were maturing at the same time, marriage, kids, ect. I commute an average of two hours each day and grew to appreciate his humor....even if some of it was aimed at the other side of the "cheddar curtain", where I reside. It is a sorry state of affairs for radio to turn it's collective back on guys with some personality. It will make the decision to use the Sirius option on my truck full time easy. CBS has once again made Howard Stern look like a genius.

See, WGN has all the talent. Spikey, Cathy and Judy, etc. Theyr'e funny. That Steve Dahl is not funny.
Tinley Park

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