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Cortland Native, Talk Radio Pioneer Arnold D’Angelo (Dean) Dies

HARTFORD, CT — For more than 40 years, he was known as WTIC sports talk host Arnold Dean. But on WKRT in his hometown of Cortland — and on Syracuse’s former WAGE radio and WHEN-TV — he used his given name, Arnold D’Angelo. Whichever name you prefer to go with, the legendary “Dean of Sports Talk” passed away over the weekend at the age of 82.

Speaking with the Cortland Standard in 2008, D’Angelo recalled how he got into radio at the former WKRT (now WYBY) when he was 18 years old.  His time at WKRT would be short-lived, as D’Angelo made the short trip north to study at Syracuse University.  While there, D’Angelo got word of an opening at WAGE radio — the Syracuse station that he loved growing up.  He got the job.  A few years later, WAGE would be sold to Meredith Corporation — the owners of what was, at the time, WHEN-TV, the CBS affiliate on channel 8.  (If you’re not up on your local TV history, WHEN-TV didn’t move to channel 5 until the 60s, and didn’t become WTVH until Meredith sold-off the radio station in the 70s.)

One CNYRadio.com reader who wrote in to point out D’Angelo’s local ties, contends that D’Angelo was the last surviving on-air personality from the days when each station was known as WAGE and WHEN-TV.

After serving for a few years in the military, D’Angelo returned to WHEN in 1958.  By 1965, as he told the Standard, he had reached the station’s salary cap.  With no hope for further raises, he began a search that would lead him to WTIC, the station where he’d wind up working for the rest of his life.

According to the Hartford Courant, D’Angelo said people frequently misspelled or misprounounced his last name, so he decided to use the name “Arnold Dean” on-air when he joined WTIC in 1965. (According to the Standard, D’Angelo said he had to change his name “so no ethnicity was portrayed.”)  Although Dean started his long run at WTIC by hosting music-focused programs, a 2008 profile by the Courant noted Dean was one of the first people in the country to set aside the music and devote his shift primarily to talk.  Dean launched the station’s still-running “Sports Talk” program in 1976.

The newspaper noted that Dean had reduced his schedule in recent years, but never completely retired from WTIC. The 1997 Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame inductee had co-hosted the “Tailgate Show” prior to all of this past season’s UConn football home games, and he most-recently could be heard on-air during the “Husky Extra Points” show about two weeks ago.

Dean’s wife, Helen, died last year. They are survived by three adult children.  WTIC plans to air a special tribute to Dean tonight (Monday) from 6-8pm.  You can stream it live from connecticut.cbslocal.com.

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Our thanks to the CNYRadio.com reader who made sure we didn’t miss the connection to Dean’s local roots, including recalling his time at WKRT and WAGE/WHEN. Anytime you’ve got news to share involving local radio or TV, we’re grateful for your correspondence at cnyradio@cnyradio.com or via the handy Contact Form, which you can also access by clicking “Contact Us” at the top of the site.

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