Note from Phil Roberts: Following is a guest blog written by my friend, Brian Allen of KSFY-TV, Sioux Falls. He writes recently of the death of Dic Youngs, “the Youngster,” a Des Moines rock radio legend. Although I didn’t know Dic, I feel like I knew him because I listened to him when I could for so many years. That happens in radio. After a while, though you’ve never met, you get to know the announcer whose voice comes through the speaker day after day. I admired Dic for staying in the business so long; that’s no easy task.
It’s sometimes odd what occurs to you in the middle of the night when you cannot sleep. It is tough when your heroes die. To know that their good works have come to an end and their voice has been silenced.
Early this morning, one of my broadcasting heroes lost his life.
His name was Dic Youngs. If you’re old enough, you’ve probably heard of him. He was a legend, spending more than 45 years in broadcasting. Most of that time was spent behind a microphone at KIOA in Des Moines. He WAS rock and rock in the 1960s and 1970s, eventually growing into the role of “radio grandfather” in the ‘80s, ‘90s and beyond. He was a mentor to so many broadcasters, directly and indirectly. Those fortunate enough to work with him benefited from his direct involvement. Those who benefited indirectly were provided with a road map on how to respect yourself, others and the business of broadcasting.
Every year, Youngsy would broadcast live from the Iowa State Fair. His booming voice audible even without the big speakers KIOA would set up. He was like Santa Claus in the Summertime; always quick with a joke or a smile or a pat on the back. I am 36 and have missed only a handful of Iowa State Fairs, so I had many opportunities to sit down and talk with Dic. But I never did it. Not really.
Every once in a while I would approach him and start a conversation but then almost back out of it. He wasn’t intimidating, not in the least. I just think every time I would try I would end up having a “you’re not worthy” moment and not finish what I had tried to start. But I would always admire from afar and be amazed at how well he knew people and how well he knew the music.
That was the thing: Every time Dic Youngs was on the radio you KNEW he loved the music. That he was particular about playing songs with strong lyrics and attention-getting guitar licks and bass lines. It was always a party with Youngsy — at least that’s how he made it appear and that’s why he was so fun to listen to.
For years, Dic hosted a Saturday night oldies show on KIOA. When I lived in Des Moines…and eventually when I moved away but would come back for visits…I would always turn the show on and listen. It always made me smile. What a master of the radio dial!
Which brings us back now to today and the horrible news which greeted me this morning. Dic had been hospitalized for a while now at Mercy in Des Moines. This morning about 1:30, his body apparently had enough and he passed into history. Going forward, it will be odd to think and talk about him in the past tense.
He made the world a better, more tolerable place….one record at a time. His jokes, sometimes corny, could bring a smile to your face and make you temporarily forget about your woes.
He was a big man in size and a big man in heart.
Of all the people I know who have worked with Youngsy, I have never heard one of them gripe about Dic and that is saying something. Broadcasting can be fairly two-faced and has it’s fair share of back stabbers. That being said, Dic Youngs was respected but more than that he was loved. And when someone you love dies, it’s tough to take.
Statement from KIOA (more, including audio clips of Dic, at http://kioa.com/Dic-Youngs-1941-2009/5251474):
93.3 KIOA and the Des Moines community have lost an icon. Richard “Dic” Youngs has passed away after a long illness.
Dic will always be remembered for his reverberating baritone, the way he helped entertain and inform Iowa and his quickness with a wink and a smile. Youngsy always wanted to have a good time and take his audience on the same ride.
Youngsy could spin a tale with such style that, even if he only had a few details, you listened closely and begged for more. From the start he had one desire – give the audience a good time. And whether he was spinning discs at a sock-hop or counting down the top 10 on the radio, people danced and had the time of their lives.
But Dic was also able to help listeners through the tough times as well. If it was a recession, a flood or the 2001 terrorist attacks, people listened to Youngsy because his assured delivery was a comfort in even in the most trying moments.
So, thank you Youngsy for all that you have shared with KIOA and Des Moines in over 45 years of broadcasting. We will greatly miss our boisterous, kind, sweet and smiling friend.
-Your KIOA Family