Dave “the King” Wilson Loving Life and Challenges by kentsterling
June 14, 2010, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Kent Sterling, Media | Tags:

by Kent Sterling

Dave Wilson is a very talented guy to whom I haven’t spoken in a long time.  It was March 7, 2009.  I remember it well because I fired him as the afternoon host at WIBC.  Dave is a uniquely likable host and guy, so doing that was unpleasant.  Much less pleasant for Dave as I found out first hand 10 months later when I was spiked.

My wife and I are having a party Saturday night, and we have invited a good number of current and former Emmis Indianapolis folks.  Facebook is a very efficient method of inviting people so that is the mechanism we used.  Unfortunately, I’m a dumbass, so in the reminder I sent today I neglected to specify the date and the default was today.

Guess who popped in at 5:30 this afternoon.  Yep, Dave.  The Sterlings receive uninvited guests about as often as U.S. Presidents die in office, so the doorbell is a noise reviled here.  It’s either a Mormon spreading the word that they very rarely endorse bigamy anymore, a Cutco knife salesman, or the little girl next door who is only sweet when selling us cookies.

Imagine my surprise when it was Dave.  For the next hour or so we solved a lot of the problems plaguing radio

and became reacquainted.  It was very enjoyable.  Dave is very funny, as everyone in Indianapolis knows.  He’s also very smart.  We share a lot of the same ideas about utilizing the internet in lieu of traditional media, radio in particular.

Dave has a website, and is doing some stand-up in the area.  He opened for Count Bop & the Headliners a few weeks ago at the Rathskeller.  Like most people displaced by the vagaries of the radio business dynamic, Dave has figured out what he enjoys, and plans on doing it a lot.

Dave is exactly the kind of talent radio needs, but regularly casts out.  He’s unique and likable.  Dave isn’t William F. Buckley or George Stephanopolous.  He’s a funny guy from Speedway who is who he is, and conveys that very naturally.  If authenticity is the most important thing in a radio host – and it is – then Dave should be hosting a show in Indianapolis.

Something terrible happened to WIBC in Dave’s fifth year as a host.  Terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, flew another plane into the Pentagon, and crashed a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania.  Listeners wanted information about terrorism.  This incident was seen as an instant magnet for news/talk radio stations, and if a product with sufficient news value could be created and consistently produced, maybe a healthy portion of that new group of listeners could be retained.

That meant that an affable and funny host like Dave was led into trying to be something he wasn’t.  That corrupted his ability to do the show and be enthusiastic about being the voice of doom.  There was logic behind all of it, and a station can’t fire a host because of the whims of the news cycle, so a host who is great at “x” is forced to do “y” because market conditions demand it.

For Dave, that was not good.  Knowing what we know now – that the ratings would spike for two weeks, and then return to normal over the following four weeks – giving Dave a couple of weeks off, and then having him do the show as he had would have been smart.  Or we err on the side of Dave, and tell him to continue doing his show.

There is nothing more important in radio than the mental health and confidence of the talent.  Nothing corrupts the energy of a host more quickly than forcing him to do something at which he has no comfort, and that’s what happened with Dave.

Radio is a crazy business.  When a guy as authentic and likable as Dave is sitting on the sidelines radio is crazy – AND I’M THE GUY WHO FIRED HIM!  How’s that for crazy?


3 Comments so far
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Very well put! Loved listening in to Dave’s show when I could. Never mattered how “oddball” the guest was, he was able to make a civil conversation of it.

Comment by Toye Begbaaji

I pretty much always listed to Dave. When Emmis took him off the air I thought to myself “They probably pay Steve Simpson 1/2 of what Dave was making, if that. I guess they think they’re making a good move.” Steve was so entertaining with such probing questions into terrorists like “When should Mick Jagger retire?”. Yeah, right.
Ed “Wank” is a likable enough guy. I guess I’m a little old for his style of entertainment like “What really bugs you at work?”. Jeez.

“Where’s Dave? Dave’s not here.”

Comment by Longtimeindyguy

Freedom 95 in Indy is the perfect home for big Dave On Saturday. It’s 95.9 fm and 950 am on the dial and they broadcast the same at the same time it’s called Freedom 95.. it would be nice to here Dave again on the radio. There could be some openings.

Comment by William

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