Paul McLane is editor in chief of Radio World.
With sadness I note the passing of my friend and colleague Dale Tucker.
Word reached me Monday that Dale, shown at right and below, had died of cancer at age 73, after a short period of illness. I could not share the news with you until I had confirmed it with his family.
If you have read Radio World over the years, you saw the fruits of Dale’s labors in our pages, though you might not know his name. If you work in the broadcast equipment manufacturing business, especially if you attended radio’s big trade shows, you probably knew Dale personally.
Dale sold ads for our employer, and did it well. He spent 17 years as a regional sales manager for Radio World when the publication was owned by IMAS Publishing, working for founder Steve Dana, and was often seen at conventions in the company of his sales colleagues Skip Tash or John Casey. Dale also helped launch sister publication Pro Audio Review.
Selling ad space is hard. Deadlines are frequent, even intense; clients may not wish to take your calls; the industry around which your business is based changes constantly; competitors constantly seek to eat your lunch while you are pressed by the needs of your job to grab theirs.
Dale was no cut-throat account exec. His skill with folks and his genuine warmth were what made him successful. Demonstrating his sense of humor, Dale listed this as his specialty on LinkedIn: “Crack production whiz with Ampex 350 and an Editall Splicing block/razor blade. Cutting edge 40+ years ago!” But more seriously, he named as his specialty, “relationship selling and service.” That was the Dale I knew, a “people person” if ever I met one. His success came from that personal warmth crossed with a droll sense of humor. He also exuded a passion for radio evident to anyone who met him; his greatest compliment about another person in this business was, “He’s one of us.”
Dale loved old radios, old microphones, funny ties, and interesting automobiles old and new. I remember his joy when he realized that we shared a love of historical World’s Fair iconography and he rushed to share photos with me. And he so enjoyed comparing notes and sharing stories — about people, about radio and about their careers. (One colleague noted that word of Dale’s passing has been circulating on the grapevine, then added: “For years, Dale was the grapevine.”)
According to his LinkedIn profile, Dale was educated at the University of South Alabama and began his radio career at WILE in Cambridge, Ohio. He went on to stations in Tampa, Fla.; Washington; Omaha, Neb.; Mobile, Ala.; Boston; Denver; Aspen, Colo.; Minneapolis; and the Bay Area. He was an air personality, production manager, program director and station manager. He sold equipment, program syndication, and print and online ad sales.
A job of which Dale was most proud was that of production director and air personality for WRKO in Boston in the late 1960s. He voiced promos, PSAs and spots, and worked a weekend air shift on the AM. “Bob Henabery hired me,” Dale wrote on LinkedIn. “He and another genius, Harvey Mednick, turned the tables on the common automated radio station — rather than trying to hide the fact that it was automated, they capitalized on it! WRKO-FM became ‘R-KO, the shy but friendly robot.’ … Due to an AFTRA contract stipulation, they had to hire one exclusive voice for the FM. That was me.”
Our publisher John Casey recalls: “Dale told me, during one of our many road trips visiting accounts in California, of the day he had to pinch-hit at the last minute for one of the absent radio hosts at WRKO. That fateful on-air coverage turned out to be the very first U.S. radio interview of the Bee Gees … a fairly significant and historical radio event, indeed.”
During his career Dale also sold space for other trade publications. In later years he created Tucker Broadcast Surplus and the Tucker Broadcast consultancy, continuing to help stations buy and dispose of equipment. He was active in SBE Chapter 43 in Sacramento and was a volunteer for the California Historical Radio Society, where his activities included managing antique radio swap meets.
Dale is survived by Kathy, his wife of 41 years, and their daughter Jessica. To inquire about the memorial service, share a memory or say goodbye, feel free to call Kathy at Dale’s old business line at (916) 721-3410 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For me as a co-worker, Dale’s sales work literally made my work at Radio World possible. As a friend, I’m going to miss him greatly; and I know many others who will too. I welcome your memories of Dale posted below and will share them with his family.
Dale, you were one of us, and always will be.
Paul McLane is editor in chief of Radio World.