Many of us listened to Dick Purtan over his more than 40 year career but did you have a chance to listen on his final day? You can actually watch and hear his final 10 minutes on WOMC here.
What perhaps struck me most about Purtan’s Friday broadcast is that it did not fall into the trap of being a V.I.P. “love fest” with every county executive and city official calling in as much to pay tribute as to do some campaign stumping. No, like a well-heeled on-air bit, the timing of the final show ensured this would not be the case; with the recent, annual Salvation Army radiothon providing ample opportunity for the area ‘who’s who’ to wish Dick well and rightfully congratulate him on a Hall of Fame career.
Instead, yesterday morning’s broadcast was special in the way that radio is special. As the most intimate of mediums—we typically listen alone in the shower, car, pool—the last show was largely between Purtan and his listeners. Surrounded by family and co-workers, legions of longtime fans called in to thank him, “remember when” and request past bits and put-ons that had served as a soundtrack to their lives.
What’s next? From the man who can now sleep in every morning, updates and podcasts from dickpurtan.com. From WOMC, no word on a replacement although the station said yesterday it would be two months before an announcement was made. I would speculate that on-air “tryouts” might be held to let listeners decide. And for the industry: Hopefully a reminder of the importance of top-tier talent in connecting with audience and standing apart from the competition. That talent may cost dollars and cents but its ultimate power cannot be discounted.