Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants: Remembering Dwight Case

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(By Eric Rhoads) Paul Harvey used to talk about “the rest of the story.” The Radio Ink magazine and headlines e-mail you read have a story that is tied to one man — Dwight Case, a dear friend who just passed.

Decades ago, after I sold my radio stations in New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Provo, I started The Giant Boom Box company, which created mobile studios for radio stations — studios that of course looked like giant boom boxes. I was advertising the product in Radio & Records and Radio Only when I received a call about a magazine I “should be” advertising in, called The Pulse of Broadcasting.

I hadn’t heard of the magazine but was told everyone was reading it — which I doubted. When I asked how much an ad was, the sales guy told me it was $5,000. Upon my audible gasp, the price dropped in half. In the end, I bought five ads for $100 each with the promise that I’d do more if I saw some results. Of course, there were no results. And when I was visiting the publisher, Tom Shovan, in New York, I was told the truth — the current owner was unwilling to spend money on the magazine and the operators were buying postage as they could afford it. So the “thousands” of copies were actually a couple of hundred, tops. In reality, my $100 per ad was probably too much.

Dwight Case

Bothered by this, I requested a meeting with the owner, whose office was across the hall. An hour later I walked out with a deal to own the magazine, and I took it over a few weeks later. The prospect of owning a trade magazine was exciting, yet overwhelming, and I turned to my friend and mentor Dwight Case, who had run Radio & Records. Dwight reminded me that the “Street Talk”  column in R&R was the most read column in the magazine, and said I should do something like it in Pulse. He came up with the column’s name: “Radio Ink.”

Of course, what I did not know or understand was that the publication, for whatever reason, had a reputation problem I wouldn’t be able to overcome. And that was combined with the threat of a lawsuit by Tower Records, which was suing every magazine with the name Pulse to protect a copyright it possessed. We were forced to change the name — but thanks to an intro from Dwight Case to his friend Russ Solomon, the founder of Tower Records, I worked out an agreement for a one-year time period to make the change, and the magazine became Radio Ink.

Dwight of course coached me, made introductions, and even taught me how to sell magazine advertising. One day, while at the RAB conference in Dallas, Dwight said, “Come with me, and follow my lead.” In one hour’s time we managed to introduce ourselves and tell a brief story to every vendor in the exhibit hall and collect their business cards so we could follow up. Dwight was like a lightning bolt. People loved him, he had vast amounts of energy, and he moved fast. In that one hour, he helped me lay the groundwork with advertisers who are still with me 30 years later.

I can’t remember when I first met “DC,” but the first time we worked together was when I hired him to help me and Rich Marston launch my first FM, in Salt Lake City. Dwight taught us his folder system for managing salespeople: He wanted them to keep a folder for each client, and asked the sellers to open every folder every day. When I attempted to modernize the system, he showed me why that wasn’t a good idea. We went into a sales meeting, and the sellers had all brought in every folder they had. He asked one of the sellers, “Did you look at every account? Look in every folder?” When she said yes, he opened a folder and pulled out a $100 bill he had planted earlier. “You would have gotten to keep this if you had been looking, but since you didn’t look, it’s mine again.”

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“Dwight Case was a true leader and visionary of the radio industry. He had a profound impact on my career and on my love of radio. He opened up many doors for me both professionally and personally for which I will always be grateful. He supported me as a female in the industry when it was not fashionable or commonplace and helped me to find my voice. I look back on the many spirited conversations we have had over the years and can only hope we provided him as much inspiration and thought as he provided us.”

Erica Farber, CEO RAB
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Years of working with Dwight Case on the radio station, then on Radio Ink, and on other projects throughout the years taught me lessons I’m not sure I would ever have discovered on my own. The list would be vast.

Dwight had, of course, run RKO Radio, which was a major player and a significant innovator, and it was Dwight who was the first in the industry to put women in major positions. (Erica Farber at WXLO (99X)/New York was a great example.) And it was Dwight who encouraged me to look for ways to elevate women in the industry, so I created the first “Women in Radio” column in the industry, and later a “Women in Radio Award” as part of the Radio Wayne Awards. (We later killed that award after criticism from women in the industry who felt women should not be singled out.) Later we launched the Most Influential Women in Radio issue, which led to an active “MIW” mentoring group. 

Dwight was also on the cutting edge as the CEO of Transtar, one of the first two radio networks feeding programming via satellite. Later he went to Hart Hanks, and then to its property R&R. 

One of the joys of my life was staying in touch with Dwight, and the last time I saw him was to have lunch in Los Angeles. Though he was aging, he was working on launching a new project in several areas of innovation. He had stayed current on the tech of our times and always had a new project, new partners, and big ideas.

When I received notice of his passing from his daughter Jaye, I experienced that sinking feeling that means someone who had lifted me up and supported me with encouragement and friendships was gone. It’s a sad day, but also a celebration, because his was a life well lived, and he was a man who cared more about others than he cared about himself. He never wanted credit, he just wanted to help others. His time with me was never about the money; he did most of it out of the goodness of his heart, which is why he is so loved. 

Dwight Case was a household name in the radio industry, and though today’s younger sector may not know him, he was a legend and a giant among giants. 

Saying goodbye is never easy, yet Dwight Case’s laugh, his spirit, his ideas, live on, and Radio Ink has continued for almost three decades with the name he developed. It is a living testament to his brilliance.

I ask those of you who knew Dwight to take a moment of silence to remember this giant of a man who had a huge impact and a true passion for this industry. As we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, we honor his memory.

Eric Rhoads is the Chairman of Radio Ink Magazine and can be reached at bericrhoads@gmail.com

Here is Dwight’s obituary:
CASE, Dwight Leland
June 29, 1929 – August 9, 2019

Dwight Case passed away at home in Los Angeles, CA surrounded by family and friends on the evening of August 9, 2019 at the age of 90.
Dwight was born June 29, 1929 in Modesto, CA to Clifford and Bessie Case.
After high school, he joined the Navy and served in the Korean War as a sonar operator aboard the destroyer USS Kepler from 1950-1951. After leaving the service, he returned to California and on the GI Bill received his BS from the College of the Pacific (now the University of the Pacific) in Stockton, CA in 1956.
Dwight’s professional passion was always radio broadcasting. He started as a disc jockey in Modesto and eventually moved into the sales and management of radio stations and radio networks. Some of the highlights in his career include:
KROY-AM Sacramento, CA General Manager 1966-1971
KHJ-AM Los Angeles, CA General Manager 1972-1975
RKO Radio Corporation President and CEO 1976-1978
Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program 1977
Transtar Corp 1979
Publisher, Radio and Records Magazine 1982-1986
Western International Media 1988-1998
All Media Asia 2003-2006 Los Angeles, CA
In addition to his long-time commitment to radio, Dwight also served as a Deacon and Elder at Bel Air Presbyterian Church and on the Boards of the California Hospital Los Angeles and the La Vie Counseling Center in Pasadena.
He also received the Medal of The Order of St. John for his charitable work with these and various other health-related charities.
Dwight enjoyed many travels with his wife Virginia all over the world, especially trips to the Galapagos Islands, China, Europe and the Holy Land.
Dwight is survived by his wife of 59 years, Virginia, his daughter Jaye, his sons Cole, Scott, Craig and Bret, and all their families.
A memorial service is currently being planned for September and the details will be announced soon.
For more information contact Cole Case at colelcase@gmail.com and Jaye Case at jaye_case@icloud.com.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I met Dwight Case a few times when we were both employed by Ralph Guild’s Atlantic States Industries, owners of radio stations coast to coast, including Dwight’s KROY (Sacramento) and my station, WLOB in Portland, Maine. I remember him as a dynamic, take charge guy and can still hear his voice as we left a long meeting with the words, “What’s The Plan?” Of course we were heading out for a Atlantic States feast and he was in charge. Sad to hear of his passing 😢

  2. As a young man I worked at the RKO radio stations when Dwight Case was at the helm. That was when “radio was radio”… the RKO stations all sounded brilliant. Tremendous energy and excitement, short commercial breaks, incredibly talented air personalities, and we were all treated very well.
    Those were the days. Just incredible.

  3. Eric, as always, your words are eloquent. Dwight Case was a treasure that contributed vast good will to the industry while inviting innovation and best practices to Radio. I know I represent troves of Radio guys who are grieving his loss.

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