KGHP-FM deejay Dale broadcasts 1,000th show
Denny Dale still likes that old time rock and roll.
The retired educator has been playing the soul-soothing music on local radio station KGHP-FM from 5 to 7 every Monday evening for more than 20 years. This week, station manager Spencer Abersold presented Dale with a trophy and certificate before his 1,000th show.
“I’m very enthusiastic about this whole thing,” said Dale, whose stage name for his “Classic Rock and Roll Connections” program is DJ the Deejay. “It’s just fun for me. It’s like a grownup going to baseball camp or astronaut camp, except I don’t have to pay.
“After 1,000 shows, I’m not tired of this at all.”
Every show has a theme
Each week since debuting in August 2002, Dale has picked a theme and played rock and pop songs from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s connected to the topic. This week the theme was, you guessed it, “1,000.”
“It took me 20 years to do it, but we reached 1,000 tonight on Rock and Roll Connections,” Dale said as the “On Air” sign lit up Monday outside the Peninsula High School broadcast studio.
Themes range from mundane (performer deaths that year, Northwest artists, one-hit wonders, falling in love) to arcane (baseball nicknames, artists with at least five top 10 hits but no No. 1s, left-handed artists, movie songs whose singer had a major role in the film).
Dale doesn’t sit down each week and scour Billboard magazine or Google 30 songs that fit a theme. Though he employs reference books, many songs are mined from his encyclopedic brain as part of an ongoing process.
“I’ve been following music for so many years, part of it I just know,” he said. “Sometimes shows are years in the making. I make lists. I have a whole bunch of lists going on. I hear a song and say, ‘That fits on that list.’ Then I look at my lists and see what’s doable (for an upcoming show).”
Finding topics became more challenging
During the early days, themes were low-hanging fruit, such as songs with a certain word in the title. As the years have gone by, the easy pickings dried up. Topics became more challenging, and fun.
A listener called and asked if Dale could put together a show featuring songs with whistling in them. Neither the requester nor DJ could cite a single example.
90 songs with whistling
“One day I heard a song with whistling in it and wrote it down, and it progressed,” Dale said. “That’s the way the process works. Eventually I did three shows with no repeated songs that had whistling in them. I think that’s the perfect example.”
Another difficult but enjoyable theme was album cuts or B-side songs that another artist turned into a No. 1 hit.
“Those are fun ones to put together because there’s a little story,” Dale said. “I played the original and played the hit. So that was fun, too.”
Dale’s website lists past shows by date and has an alphabetical list of past themes.
Between sets, Dale imparts trivia about the songs. He’s not just playing rock and roll music but exploring the lore behind it.
“Denny presents it like a chef,” said Abersold. “He’s not just serving fast food, he’s serving Wolfgang Puck.”
He grew up with Fifties rock and roll
Dale was introduced to rock and roll in the 1950s while growing up in Tacoma, where his mom played the radio in their home.
“I’ve just always liked that kind of music,” he said. “I’ve always collected music, always bought 45s and albums.” Today, his collection has grown to 17,000 songs.
Dale’s favorite musical era was the British Invasion of the mid-1960s when British bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks and The Dave Clark 5 crossed the Atlantic and joined an already thriving American scene featuring The Beach Boys and Motown groups.
“That was such a good mix, in the ’60s,” said Dale, who taught math, coached boys basketball and served as athletic director at Stadium High.
‘How about 2,000 shows?’
Dale has heard talk that the radio station might go out of business and said, “Gosh, I love doing this. Where would I even look for something else?” because he’s not ready to hang up the headphones. “I don’t see an end in sight,” he said. “How about 2,000 shows?”
KGHP has been owned and operated by Peninsula School District since 1988. It is classified as a nonprofit public radio station with a limited broadcast area. It operates on three low-powered FM channels — 105.7, 89.9 and 89.3 — that can be heard across the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas and into South Kitsap, Tacoma and Vashon Island.
The station began streaming its broadcasts in about 2006, Abersold said. Since then, Dale has heard from listeners across the nation and in several foreign countries.
Devereux also nearing 1,000
Betty Devereux, who hosts the “BD’s Books and Friends” show on Thursday evenings, also is nearing 1,000 broadcasts, though she lost count. She has been on the air weekly for as long as Dale except when preempted by high school basketball games. That set her back a month or two, but she should hit the century mark by summer, Abersold said.
“It’s a huge milestone for both of them,” said Abersold. “They’re dedicated. They bring their passion with them. And it’s free. They’re giving themselves away. A lot of people have that desire but there’s not that outlet. That’s the beauty of what the radio station offers.”
Abersold reported on Thursday, March 30, that he was notified his 21-year tenure as station manager will end in June because of budget restraints. He was told the district intends to keep the radio station.