Saturday, April 15, 2006

"We used to listen to the radio
And sing along with every song we'd know
We said someday we'd find out how it feels
To sing to more than just the steering wheel

It's hard to say
It's time to say
Goodbye, Goodbye" Photograph - Nickelback

The gathering was in Loves Park, a small community near Rockford, Illinois. At the church founded by his family, in the place of his baptism, Dan Kieley was remembered.

Driving around Loves Park it was easy for me to imagine a young Dan Kieley driving those same streets listening to the radio. A kid singing along with the songs he knew while saying to himself...someday he'd be in radio. Dan Kieley created great radio from scratch; the decades of perfecting his craft began in small towns the likes of Sioux Falls. His reputation for living the indefatigable work ethic of the upper midwest and the resultant remarkable successes on the prairie would serve as Dan's entree to the bright lights and big cities. Radio in Chicago, Milwaukee, Omaha, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Dallas, and elsewhere was made to change by his hand, affected by his contribution.

Life can be difficult for those who achieve greatness at an early age. For Dan it was no different but he came through it all. He survived his wilderness years and achieved much more than most would or could ever dare to even imagine much less dream. Fig's signature throw away "I love the smell of RF in the morning" was real to Dan. A pathologically competitive professional, his love for radio was unbridled, infectious and contagious.

After the memorial service the time came to raise a glass, to tell a story. From all across the country folks had come to honor and pay their respects to a good man, to the dear friend too soon gone. In a trade where many are said to suffer delusions of adequacy, ever satisfied with mediocrity and the status quo, Dan was a renegade. Kiels will be remembered as an original, a creative maverick, a loving father, an oversized courageous personality imbued by a generous soul.

He was an anachronism impassioned by the mettle, the ardor of Storz, McLendon, Stewart, Drake, Jacobs, Joseph, Drew, Blore, Rook and Sklar. Dan's life work was nothing less than a rich homage to the founders, pioneers and masters of an art he practiced with distinctive deftness. He embraced the high wire act with humor and an affable charm. In his full measure he was a man excited by the possibility of each moment, energized and inspired by what had yet to be achieved. Kiels was an alchemist known for helping others to turn ether into gold. He deeply understood and respected one tenet above others...winning begins with people and product.

Dan Kieley lives on, you will find his spirit and passion beating in the hearts of certain people. Those obsessed with creation. Those who grasp audio as art and theater. Those who live to create something new and different by first building upon what the best have left behind; those few willing and eager to make the sometimes brutal sacrifices that the bitch-goddess success cavalierly requires and that greatness unequivocally demands.

The Dan Kieley Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established. Please send a check to The Conclave, 4517 Minnetonka Boulevard, Suite 104, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

Gerry Cagle has written a tribute to Dan, a story of a round of golf in Las Vegas. You will find it by checking his commentary here


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your nice words on Kieley's passing, and your report from his memorial, for those of us who couldn't make it.

Dan was a mentor to so many people and, for those of us in the Midwest, he was always a "local boy' who made good.

Rest easy, Dan. You've earned it.

John Michaels
Minneapolis, MN