Steve Dahl

Steve Dahl

Infobox Radio Presenter
name = Steve Dahl
alias =

imagesize = 250px
caption =
birthname =
birthdate = birth date and age|mf=yes|1954|11|20
birthplace = Pasadena, California, USA
deathdate =
deathplace =
show = The Steve Dahl Show
station = WJMK, Chicago, Illinois, USA
timeslot = 5:00 - 9:00 AM CTcite news|title=Dahl shifting to early-bird focus|url=,0,3496517.story|work=Chicago Tribune|date=2008-08-25|accessdate=2008-08-25]
show2 =
station2 =
timeslot2 =
style =
country = United States
prevshow =
web = []

Steve Dahl (born November 20, 1954 in Pasadena, California)cite news|last=Herguth|first=Bob|title=Steve Dahl, Unplugged|work=Chicago Sun-Times|page=8|date=1996-03-24] cite news|last=Hoekstra|first=Dave|title=Steve & Garry's Radio Timeline|pages=Show, 5|publisher=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1989-12-10] has been an American radio personality for over thirty years. He is currently on the air at WJMK (104.3 Jack FM), in Chicago, Illinois. Before WJMK, Dahl broadcast with Chicago stations WCKG, WDAI, WLUP, WMVP and WLS. He also currently writes for the "Chicago Tribune" in the "At Play" section as the resident "vice advisor".cite web|url=,0,3820982,bio.columnist|title=Chicago Sun-Times Steve Dahl biography|accessdate=2008-05-21|] Additionally, Dahl is currently serving on the Board of Trustees at Columbia College Chicago.cite web|url=|title=Columbia College Board of Trustees biography for Steve Dahl|accessdate=2008-05-21|]

Dahl's radio show takes an "every guy" approach to life in Chicago and Dahl often tells bucolic stories about his life and family on the air. Dahl is also famous for his song parodies and his impressions. He is considered a pioneer in talk radiocite news|first=Robert|last=Feder|title=Like it or not, folks, Steve Dahl did drop|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1989-01-16] cite news|title=Radio Currents Online: Apr 3 - Apr 9, 2006|url=|work=Radio Magazine Online|date=2006-04-04|accessdate=2008-05-21
quote = Steve Dahl, the talent from WCKG/Chicago, who brought his brand of shock and awe to radio decades ago and redefined the medium for his generation
] and has been influential for many other radio personalities.cite book|last=Colford|first=Paul|title=Howard Stern, King of All Media: The Unauthorized Biography|year=1996|publisher=Diane Publishing Company|isbn=0788163361] He gained a measure of national attention after the Disco Demolition Night promotion at Comiskey Park,cite news|first=Jae-Ha|last=Kim|title=Disco's Mood Rings True: '90s Dance Fans Show Signs of Nostalgia Fever|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1995-04-21] cite news|first=Leonard|last=Greene|title=N.Y. Gets Dance Fever: Disco Gave Reeling City Reason to Live|work=New York Post|date=2007-07-13] and he is also famous for his longstanding former role as one half of the "Steve and Garry" team (with Garry Meier).cite news|author=CBS News|title=Chicago Radio Legends Steve Dahl and Garry Meier Reunite|work=CBS News Chicago|date=2006-08-19]

In addition to his radio career, Dahl is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. His band, "Teenage Radiation", recorded and performed a number of song parodies (which he often played on his show throughout the 1980s) and since 1990 he has performed and recorded as "Steve Dahl and the Dahlfins" Dahl has also dabbled in acting, appearing in the 1984 cult classic, "Grandview, U.S.A." with John and Joan Cusack. He also appeared in the 2004 film "Outing Riley", and in the 2006 indie comedy "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With" (which was written and directed by Chicago native Jeff Garlin).

Dahl grew up in La Cañada, California, a Los Angeles suburb northwest of Pasadena. He is the son of an electronics parts manufacturer's representative and a homemaker. He is married and is the father of three sons.

Radio career

Early radio career

In the 9th grade, Dahl began hanging around a local underground radio station, KPCC-FMcite news|last=Hoekstra|first=Dave|title=Steve & Garry 10 Years of Radio Mayhem|pages=Show, 1|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1989-12-10] , in his home state of California. At the age of sixteen, after he starting working at the radio station full-time, he unofficially dropped out of high school.cite news|last=Johnson|first=Steve|title=Shocked Jock - His Partner Dumped Him. His Station Demoted Him. His Listeners Deserted Him. Will Steve Dahl Survive?|pages=Sunday Magazine, 14|work=Chicago Tribune|date=1994-11-06] cite web|url=|title=Steve's Web Log|accessdate=2008-05-21|date=2007-03-05|work=Steve Dahl Official Blog] Dahl later explained, "I convinced my parents and the school that I would do an independent work-study thing. I never got around to it." At the age of eighteen, he obtained his GED and briefly married a woman he met after she called him on-air to request "Suzanne", a song by Leonard Cohen which told a tale of a troubled relationship. Dahl later explained his short-lived marriage by commenting, "I should have paid more attention to that song."

Dahl was told by radio executives that he'd never make it in radio because his voice was too high. At one point, Dahl was so discouraged that he quit for about six months and attempted to pursue a career as a recording engineer. However, this never amounted to anything more than making mix tapes of popular songs for play on airplanes. Throughout this time period, he was making efforts to reconcile with his ex-wife, who by then was dating the program director at the Los Angeles radio station where she worked. He later admitted to stalking her by sleeping in his Subaru outside her house.

In 1976, Dahl's ex-wife told him about an opening for a morning show in Detroit, Michigan on WWWW-FM. He managed to secure the job, despite the fact that he did not think he was good enough for it (he later learned that the station was owned by the same company his ex-wife worked for). At WWWW, Dahl learned as much as he could about what constituted "good radio" and also began experimenting with his content. His popularity increased to the point that he achieved a 7.2 market share.

During his time at WWWW, Dahl was introduced to Janet, a junior high school English and drama teacher in a Detroit suburb, who was casually dating a friend of his and was also a listener of his show. The two hit it off after Dahl invited her to a "hump day" broadcast he was doing from the camel area of the zoo.

WDAI executives in Chicago, attracted by Dahl's 7.1 share, approached him and offered to double his salary to $50,000 a year. However, Janet did not want to leave her family in Detroit and he did not want to leave her. This prompted Dahl to ask his bosses for $35,000 a year to stay in Detroit. They flatly refused by telling him to "Go fuck yourself. Go to Chicago. Fall on your fat face." In 1978, after Janet accepted his marriage proposal, Dahl left Detroit for WDAI in Chicago. The pair eventually married in 1980.

Rude Awakening

Dahl began at WDAI Chicago on February 23, 1978 with his solo "Steve Dahl's Rude Awakening" show, but it never achieved solid ratings despite media attention. Ten months later, on Christmas Eve, 1978, WDAI changed formats from rock to disco and fired Dahl.

teve and Garry

In March 1979, after a few months without a job, Dahl was hired to do a morning show at WLUP where he met overnight DJ Garry Meier (who was then broadcasting under the pseudonym of "Matthew Meier"). Shortly thereafter, the two began a cross talk that eventually led to Meier being teamed up with Dahl as both sidekick and newsman.

Disco Demolition Night

In response to Dahl's firing from WDAI, Dahl and Meier mocked and heaped scorn on disco records on the air. Dahl even recorded and started playing a parody of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?", which he called "Do You Think I'm Disco?". The song managed to crack the Billboard Top 65 for a couple of weeks getting airplay across the country.

During this same time period, Dahl and Meier, along with both Mike Veeck (son of then Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck), and Jeff Schwartz of WLUP promotions, came up with a radio promotion and tie-in to the White Sox called Disco Demolition Night which took place on Thursday, July 12, 1979. The concept was to create an event to "end disco once and for all" in the center field of Comiskey Park that night by allowing people to get tickets at the box office if they brought $0.98 (for WLUP-FM's 97.9 location on the dial) and at least one disco record. The records were collected, piled up on the field and blown up. Hundreds of rowdy fans stormed the field, refusing to leave, resulting in the second game of the double header being postponed. American League President Lee MacPhail later declared the second game of the doubleheader a forfeit victory for the visiting Detroit Tigers. Six people reported minor injuries, and thirty-nine were arrested for disorderly conduct.cite news|title=Anti-Disco Rally Halts White Sox|work=New York Times|page=A16|date=1979-07-13] cite news|first=Macaulay|last=Campbell|title=Shock Waves|work=New York Times|page=C7|date=2002-09-16] After the Disco Demolition Night promotion, disco began to lose its popularity.cite news|first=Rod|last=Beaton|title=No anniversary party for disco debacle|work=USA Today|page=C.03|date=2004-07-12] cite news|title=WLUP Chicago Reminisces|work=Billboard|page=10|date=1989-04-22]

Height of Steve and Garry

As a result of Disco Demolition Night, Dahl attained national recognition and his popularity increased significantly. He established a syndicate and the Steve and Garry show began airing in Detroit and Milwaukee, where it performed well. However, in February of 1981, WLUP fired Dahl, citing "continued assaults on community standards." "It was going on in El Paso and Los Angeles, like, on Monday, and on Friday they fired me," Dahl later said. Meier was offered the opportunity to continue the show by himself, but he refused.rquote|right|I always used to get ticked off when I would get lumped in with Howard Stern as being a shock jock. I guess I did shock people, but I did it unintentionally. It comes out of who I am.|Steve Dahl

During the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Dahl, along with "Teenage Radiation", recorded and released a parody of The Knack's song "My Sharona," called "Ayatollah." He also made on-the-air prank phone calls to the "Islamic Fried Chicken" (a play on Kentucky Fried Chicken), ordering buckets of chicken for the hostages in the US embassy, which the State Department later reprimanded him for.cite news|first=Maureen|last=Ryan|title=You call that service?|work=Chicago Tribune|page=1|date=2003-07-07] Dahl also parodied the John Wayne Gacy murders with his song "Another Kid in the Crawl" (to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall"). He stopped playing the song when parents of the murdered children called to complain.

Dahl and Meier won a local Emmy award for a television special they did in 1981 called, "Greetings from Graceland", which was a comedy spoof on the tourist shrinecite news|title=Roach Clips|work=Wisconsin State Journal|page=Rhythm, 3|date=1995-05-25] and featured Elvis Presley's "Uncle Vester" selling Elvis cookbooks from the guardhouse. They briefly had a morning television show, called "It's Too Early" on local Chicago station, WFBN-TV, which nationally syndicated columnist Bob Greene called "the best program on television", "amazing", and "hypnotic" in his June 20, 1983 column. The show was canceled after four weeks on the air because it was deemed "unsuitable for general viewing... in particular for young children"cite news|last=Greene|first=Bob|title=Dahl's TV attempt was just 'Too Early'|work=Chicago Tribune|date=1983-06-20] after Dahl was shown fully clothed sitting on a toilet seat reading a newspaper.

In 1982, he stated on the air that motorists could allegedly substitute Necco Wafers for coins in automatic toll booths on Chicago's tollways. The Illinois Toll Highway Authority later claimed that approximately a dozen toll machines broke down due to people trying to use the candy to pay tolls.

Dahl decided to get a vasectomy in March 1989, which was performed live on the air at a urologist's office in Indiana.cite news|last=Dahl|first=Steve|title=What's the best Bears-eye view? - Premium seats have it all-food, great view, even cute waitresses|work=Chicago Tribune|page=9B|date=2007-01-11] According to Arbitron ratings for that survey period, Dahl and Meier's ratings jumped from a tie for seventh place in afternoons to a tie for third place.

According to Paul D. Colford, a former writer for Long Island Newsday, Howard Stern listened to tapes of Steve and Garry sent from Chicago by a friend of the chief engineer at WCCC Hartford. Colford claims Stern eventually developed his on-air style as a result of these tapes. Later, Stern was hired at WWWW Detroit (which Dahl had left when he moved to Chicago).

End of Steve and Garry

Steve and Garry moved to WLS, but ultimately returned to WLUP where they stayed until their split in 1993. The alleged reason for the break-up was Dahl's on-the-air comments about Meier’s new wife, commercial real-estate broker Cynthia Fircak, while the new couple were on their honeymoon. Meier also blamed Dahl's alcoholism and unpredictable behavior. Dahl, for his part, blamed Fircak for the split, once saying on air "When I met her, I knew the rules had just changed."

Robert Feder, a columnist for the "Chicago Sun Times", said, "It's the divorce that just keeps on giving: A decade after Steve Dahl and Garry Meier severed their legendary radio partnership, their breakup remains a source of bitterness and anger for them — and continuing fascination for their fans."cite news|last=Feder|first=Robert|title=Meier blasts 'delusional' Dahl over radio breakup.|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=2003-06-03]

After the team broke up, Dahl went to Sports Talk WMVP AM and teamed with Chicago sportscaster Bruce Wolf.

WCKG years

Dahl ended up on WCKG, broadcasting an afternoon show on that station.cite news|first=Steve|last=Knopper|title='Subtler' Steve Dahl still rocks Chicago|work=Billboard|page=68|date=1998-03-07] He eventually teamed up with Buzz Kilman, who was Dahl's newsman starting in 1980 on WLUP, and the show was available as a podcast at Dahl's website and streamed live on WCKG's website. Dahl's afternoon show was rated fifth (4.1) among men 25-54 in the winter 2006-2007 ratings report.cite news|first=Patrick|last=Kampert|title=Hispanic stations in 3 slots of Chicago radio's Top 10|work=Chicago Tribune|date=2007-05-01] Recently Dahl was named one of the '100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts' by "Talkers magazine".cite news|title=Talkers Magazine Heavy Hundred: The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts In America|url=|work=Talkers Magazine Online|date=2008|accessdate=2008-05-22] On June 22, 1999, Detroit's WKRK FM 97.1 dropped his show, replacing it with the Erin & Gonzo Show. This ended Dahl's bid to achieve syndication.cite news|first=Mike|last=Austerman|title=Talkers Magazine Heavy Hundred: The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts In America|url=|work=Michigan's Radio and TV Broadcast Guide|date=1999-06-30|accessdate=2008-05-22]

On Friday, August 18, 2006, Dahl was doing a remote broadcast of his show at Oak Street Beachstro, a restaurant on Chicago's Oak Street Beach. Coincidentally, Garry Meier was eating lunch there with friends. After Dahl learned of Meier's presence there, he invited Meier to appear on the air with him, which Meier accepted. Meier wound up staying for the remainder of the show. This event was covered widely throughout the Chicago media that evening.cite news|first=Robert|last=Feder|title=Don't hold your breath for more Steve & Garry|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=2006-08-22] cite news|first=Phil|last=Rosenthal|title=Beach awash in strange radio waves: A funny thing happened on the way to the air and water show: Steve and Garry reunited|work=Chicago Tribune|date=2006-08-19]

On April 2, 2007, Meier returned to Chicago radio, doing the 8 AM-11 AM show on WCKG. He appeared briefly on Dahl's show that same day. They occasionally contributed to each others' shows, and Meier spent the first hour and a half in studio during Dahl's show on the 28th year anniversary of Disco Demolition Night, recounting the events of that night.

Jack FM

Dahl announced on October 29, 2007 that he would move to mornings at WJMK on November 5, 2007 as WCKG changed formats. He is the only live personality at the Jack FM outlet as the rest of the station is preprogrammed and run by computer. Dahl's son Matt was part of the regular WCKG lineup and hosted the show immediately following his father's. However, the WCKG format change, from an FM talk station to an adult contemporary stationcite news|first=Phil|last=Rosenthal|title=Fresh sound unveiled at WCKG|work=Chicago Tribune|date=2007-11-06] was the end of Matt's show on WCKG.

Musical career

In addition to recording parody songs for his radio show with his early band "Teenage Radiation", Dahl began recording and playing live performance with a new band in 1990, called "Steve Dahl and the Dahlfins". This band has recorded and released several albums, including 1992's "Tropical Tides"cite web|url=|title=Tropical Tides|accessdate=2008-05-21| store] and 1997's "Mai Tai Roa Ae."cite web|url=|title=Mai Tai Roa Ae|accessdate=2008-05-21| store] In 2007, backed by Des Moines, Iowa band The Nadas, Dahl embarked on a tour of Chicago-area concert venues.cite web|url=|title=Steve Dahl and the Dahlfins Summer Tour, 2007|accessdate=2008-05-21|date=2007-09-11|work=WCKG Homepage] In collaboration with record producer Joe Thomas, Dahl played a large role in the comeback of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The three co-wrote the song "Your Imagination" which appeared as a single and on Wilson's 1998 album "Imagination". Dahl provided backup vocals on the song as well.cite web|url=|title=CMT Artist Biography: Steve Dahl and the Dahlfins|accessdate=2008-05-21|] cite news|first=Jim|last=DeRogatis|title=Brian Wilson, 'Imagination'|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1998-05-24] An alternate version of "Your Imagination" with slightly different lyrics and Steve Dahl singing lead is occasionally played on "The Steve Dahl Show".

Personal life

Currently, Dahl resides in the western suburbs of Chicago with his wife Janet, a non-practicing lawyer, who he married in July, 1980.cite news|first=Herguth|last=Bob|title=Chicago Profile: Janet Joliat Dahl|work=Chicago Sun-Times|page=8|date=1987-08-11] Before law school, she taught junior high for seven years in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They have three sons: Patrick, who works in television production in Los Angeles; Mike, a writer/producer at Comcast SportsNet in Chicago; and Matt, a recent graduate of DePaul University who is following in his father's footsteps in broadcast radio.cite web|title=Steve Dahl - Radio Legend||url=|accessdate=2008-05-24] Dahl is also an avid Chicago sports fan. holding season tickets to the Chicago White Sox,cite news|first=Steve|last=Dahl|title=Can't put price on being there with my sons|work=Chicago Tribune|page=19|date=2005-10-23] Chicago Bears, and Chicago Blackhawks.cite web|title=The Steve Dahl Show - Show Logs - Wednesday, March 12, 2008|work=The Steve Dahl Show Logs|date=2008-03-12|url=|accessdate=2008-05-22]

Controversies and personal battles

Dahl has battled alcoholism throughout his adult life, which he has alluded to a number of times.cite web|title=Steve Dahl Memories||url=|accessdate=2008-05-22] cite web|title=Steve's Web Log, December 8, 2006|work=Steve Dahl Official Blog|url=|accessdate=2006-12-08] He has been sober since 1995, the day after a drinking bout at the White Sox home opener, achieving it cold turkey.cite news|first=Steve|last=Johnson|title=Dahl's Fall - Steve Dahl Reformed? Turning 40 Will do That to a Guy|work=Chicago Tribune|date=1995-12-31]

In 1999, his wife filed a multi–million dollar lawsuit against Mancow Muller over lewd comments Muller made about her on his show. In 2001, the case was settled. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, it was reportedly seven figures.cite news|first=Robert|last=Feder|title=Dreck, lies and videotape: On the air in '89|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1989-12-31]

Also in 1999, Steve Dahl admitted secretly recording conversations among staffers at WCKG because he suspected they were talking about him behind his back. In snippets Dahl has played on his afternoon show, two station employees can be heard mocking him as "Steve Dull" and ridiculing his show. Dahl said, "I did it within my organization to confirm my suspicions. This was in a studio filled with microphones and cameras. Legally, I don't feel they had any expectation of privacy in that case."cite news|first=Robert|last=Feder|title=For Steve Dahl, it was the tale of the tapes|work=Chicago Sun-Times|date=1999-10-21]

Criminal suspect Drew Peterson and his lawyer, Joel Brodsky, called in to Dahl's show on January 23, 2008. Dahl had been lampooning Peterson since the start of the former police officer's notoriety. Brodsky suggested that Dahl host an on-air "dating game" with Peterson the following day, but WJMK managers and Dahl later decided not to go through with it. "cite news|first=Phil|last=Rosenthal|title=Dahl draws a line on date for Drew|work=Chicago Tribune|date=2008-01-24]


External links

* [ Official website]
*imdb name|id=0196974|name=Steve Dahl
* [ 104.3 JACK FM]
* [,0,465877.columnist Steve Dahl's articles in The Chicago Tribune]
* [ Steve Dahl Show Podcasts]
* [ Biography from Disco Demolition 25th Anniversary: The Real Story documentary site]

NAME = Steve Dahl
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Shock jock, radio personality, musician
DATE OF BIRTH = November 20, 1954
PLACE OF BIRTH = Pasadena, California, United States

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