Where Detroit Radio Plays On
DEANO DAY OF WCXI DETROIT IS BILLBOARD’S COUNTRY AIR PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR FOR 1983 — MAJOR MARKET OUTLET
DEANO DAY IS HONORED
DETROIT / NEW YORK — Not long after he took his first radio job in 1957 at tiny KROX Crockston, Minnesota, Deano Day got a chance to move in a slightly larger station in Fargo, North Dakota. The reigning jock at the station over there was not encouraging, however. “I don’t think you should come to Fargo,” he told the young hopeful. “It’s a big town, and you don’t have the voice for it.” Day’s 26-year career in radio — including his present stint in Detroit’s WCXI — suggests a glaring deficiency in that particular comment assessment.
In an age where personality has left much of radio, “Uncle Deano” continues to be a slightly larger-than-life figure in every market he works. He achieves this not just by programming words and talking well, but by applying himself as the personality that he is which in turn, the station serves it listeners.
During his 11 years in Detroit, for example, he has visited his listeners in hospitals, acted as best man at some of their weddings and even occasionally served as pallbearer at their request. He estimates that he has autographed more than 200,000 pictures for his fans in the Motor City alone.
Day tells his listeners that there is a country song for every situation in life. So when listeners call him (or he in turn calls them) on this or that matter, he tapes the calls and replays them — linked to the “right” country song.
“Sometimes the calls (are delayed) for replay for three minutes — sometimes for a day.,” he explains. Ultimately, they all get played on the air, accompanied by the music they inspire on Day’s encyclopedia (music) memory.
Although he does not have a set playlist to follow, Day says he tries to get at least four of the current “hot hits” on his show each hour. “Management gives me pretty much of a free hand,” he notes.
Growing up on a small Minnesota farm, Day came of age listening to country music. But he says he had to work as a rock and pop DJ to make a living until he was offered a country post at KLAC in Los Angeles. He admits his own musical taste is for “harder country,” but adds even modern country sits fairly well with him compared to the rock and pop he used to play. He says he doesn’t believe that any jock has to alter his or her personality when moving from one format to another. “I do basically the same in country as I did in rock.”
Day explains that he got his “Uncle Deano” tag as a result of filling in at a father-and-son banquet for a young listener whose father had recently died. “I told him he could just introduce me as his uncle, and eventually it just stuck.”
Day’s reputation and enthusiasm for his work has also stuck. In spite of the fact that he lives 60 miles from Detroit, he swears he enjoys getting up in the morning and making that long daily drive into Detroit. END.
Addendum: Former Detroit jock Deano Day dies at age 70 –
Detroit country great and radio legend Deano Day passed away, Friday, April 10, 2009. For more on this story, see Mike Austerman’s obit reference at michiguide.com.
(Information and news source: Billboard; February 19, 1983).