Monthly Archives: June 2012

My Unforgettable friend

Oh my. I just now learned of the passing of my good friend, Dane Daniel. Dane worked for me. It was his first job in radio. It was at KLAW while he was still in high school. He was always soft spoken and had such determination. If nothing else, he was eager. I could ask him to do almost anything at the station and he’d do it. He learned quickly and he learned his craft well. I know it served him years later down the road.
Let me tell you about Dane. When I was offered the job to become the PD/Ops Mgr of KLAW I knew coming in that this was such a bad radio operation there was nothing to do but start over. The station changed format to country music at 5 AM. By 9AM the entire airstaff except one (who couldn’t afford to walk) walked off the job. This was a 24/7 operation and suddenly there are not enough bodies to cover the shifts. The GM started hiring breathing bodies. Somehow he found a little stash of eager Eisenhower High School kids and hired them. Dane was one of them. I came in within a day or two to fix the mess.
Honestly, my expectations for the new hires were not that high. I figured if they could push some buttons and not do anything stupid I’d consider myself lucky. I didn’t know that I had a couple of diamonds in the rough at the time. It takes a little time to figure out who you can count on. There was never any question about Dane.
Dane was eager; so eager at times I thought I was going have to throw a net over him. He was an eager beaver. It has always been my practice to hire people based on their attitude more than their talent. Dane possessed a great attitude from the beginning. He was an asset to our team and always eager to learn something new. He always had a smile on his face and I can still see that wide-eyed excitement and anticipation on his face. That was a part of his daily countenance.
Within 2 or 3 years KLAW in Lawton became the highest rated FM station in America. Dane was an intrinsic part of all that. He continued to grow as broadcaster. I could count on him to do anything. I was really proud that he stuck with the business. I’ve always thought of him as ‘one of mine.’ I need to dig it up but I was a local emcee of the Jerry Lewis Telethon and I recently watched some video of that. There was Dane as part of Radio Love network on camera talking with me about getting those phones to ring.
If Dane were here he will tell you about the day when we were moving KLAW out of the bank building and moving into our new studios. I had sent him back to the on-air operation and asked him to bring me a certain cart machine. I don’t know what he was thinking but we were playing all the music with only two cart machines. Rather than unplugging the wiring harness in the back of the cart machine, Dane took a pair of wire cutters which I grew up calling them ‘dykes’ and cut the audio wires. Essentially it rendered the cart player useless! And left us on air with only ONE cart player! When he brought the machine over to me and I realized what he did, I admit it. I blew up. Moving is stressful enough but I didn’t need this. I went off on him and frankly, I was merciless. I screamed at him and told him if he didn’t get out my sight, I’d fire him on the spot and “Go home and don’t you dare come back until I call you!” To this day, I can still the disappointment spread on his face. He lowered his eyes and left. I could tell he hurt because he knew he disappointed me. I knew then how much he cared about the station and how close our relationship really was. I quickly cooled down and felt like a heel.
I called him in a couple a days later and we had a short conversation. I merely asked him if he knew why I got upset. He did. I stuck out my hand and apologized for treating him that way and told him he didn’t deserve it. He smiled at me and said it was “OK.” I still didn’t feel good about it. He was so forgiving. He was a class act. It was a privilege to work with him and even more so to be his friend.
Dane didn’t deserve the tirade and I have apologized several times since then. We both laugh about the nickname I gave him after that. Secretly, he will always be ‘Dr. Dykes’ to me—a reference to his wire cutters. We have had many a laugh over the phone over that incident but in its own squirrelly way, we got closer because of that moment.
Dane and I talked several times over the next decades. I followed his career from a distance but I was always proud of him. What made me ever happier was to see what an incredible man he grew into. He loved his family and friends. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more genuine person. I can only believe he is in a better place. He has earned his place in heaven. When we talked about his illness he was always upbeat and hopeful. I had no idea until very recently that his time was growing shorter. I know he fought much of this in silence.
I didn’t have to be there to know he fought this fight with courage and dignity. That’s who he was. I’ve spoken to him several times in the last couple of years. I called him just a couple or three weeks ago to pick his brain about the early KLAW days. He was there when all that started. I needed him to refresh my memory for the book I’m writing about those days. All I got was his voice mail. I’m still having trouble processing the idea that he is gone. I loved the man. I told him that once and quickly added, “in a manly way.” He laughed.
His life ended too soon. He had so much to live for. I know what he felt for his family. As for friends, how could you not love this man? He passed too soon. But I bet he’d be the first to tell you his life may have been shortened but he didn’t get cheated. He had everything in his life he wanted, family & friends who loved him and that is wealth beyond measure. Please accept my deepest condolences and my heartfelt prayers. Eternal peace, my friend. That is my wish for you.

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