The last time I saw Dick Williams, he was watering flowers outside his home here in Port Stanley. Derek and I were out for a walk in late summer and stopped to chat a while. He had lost a lot of weight since the last time we had seen him.
He called me from Key West at the end of October to help him out of a little jam. I ended up recording promos for his weekend show on AM980 – a show that gave his radio career a well-deserved renaissance in London. Dick Williams’ Solid Gold Rock n’ Roll was the brainchild of Dick’s son, DJ, also a radio guy. WIth a name like DJ., how could he not be? The show is a fun throwback to a time when radio hosts practically burst with personality and energy. Dick still had it.
Dick died on Wednesday here in Port. He and Mary had returned at the start of the year as Dick’s health failed. He’d been through several serious ailments in recent years. He was 83. 980’s Devon Peacock wrote a nice piece about Dick’s life and career HERE. It includes a couple of hilarious radio stories Dick liked to tell.
Dick and I hit it off when DJ brought him through the radio stations while I was on air at 1039 (now Country 104). We stayed in touch and emailed or talked on the phone. He and Mary had us over to sip lemonade and swap radio stories. What a memory he had. No one told stories like Dick Williams, or laughed as hard over them. We had to remind ourselves that he and Mary had stuff to do, because it was tempting to just stay in his presence, and ask for more.
He loved radio. Never fell out of love with it, like some of us have. Well, we fell out of love with the business of it, not radio itself. Dick was absolutely in love with being a DJ. He was involved with an online radio station called Southernmost Radio. Many of us did imaging for the station, those little spoken parts about the station’s attributes. “You’re listening to Southernmost Radio – your home for classic hits of the 70s and 80s!” Radio was never out of his mind or his life. And it was never a “glory days” thing. He wanted to get on the air and do more radio, not rest on what he had previously done.
Dick wrote a book a few years ago called A DJ’s Spin. Before it was published, he let me read a few chapters. He called and asked me about self-publishing and whether I thought his plan was a good idea. He embedded live links in the book so the reader can click and HEAR the radio moment he was writing about. A good idea? It was brilliant and literally brought the book to life.
Over the years, I asked for his advice about different things. He was an icon without a huge ego. I loved the guy, and Derek and I both offer our sympathy to his family and close friends. Derek was living in London when Dick had his radio heydey. I missed it, so I’m grateful I got to know him and hear tales told by that legendary voice.
The last airing of Dick’s radio show will be this weekend on AM980, 11-2 both days.