As most of you know, radio and TV legend Dick Clark passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Clark was not only an icon in the announcing side of TV and radio music, but also just a standup guy all around. He came from an era of media that is about to be remembered only in history books and wikipedia, as those historical figures pass on into the afterlife. If I think about just that side of things, the passing of the torch from one era’s icons to the next, it’s a little tough. Did we learn what we should have from these people? Did we care to ask?
Clark emerged in the radio/TV media realm not at the dawn of the technology but at the dawn of its popular influence and acceptance in pop culture. He helped make the Top 40 bands of the world popular through his hosting on TV (American Bandstand among others) and radio. The classic “Golden Throat” style of announcing was pioneered by him and Casey Kasem (whom he was and still is confused with sometimes). Modern interview programs for TV as well as radio operate the way that Clark established. Look at the historical footage to see the similarities.
I was not a die-hard fan of Dick Clark but I did enjoy listening to his programs and watching him on TV as a kid. He had such a relaxed, calm presence. I think that’s what drew people to him. You felt comfortable listening to him, and the people he interviewed seemed comfortable talking with him. That ease of connection is something I admire Scott Simon from NPR’s Weekend Edition for. It creates this unique experience as an outsider looking in (or listening in) that makes you feel like you know the person/group featured, like they live down your street and you didn’t know about it. There’s a peacefulness in that. It’s not hard news, it’s not gritty realism. It doesn’t have to be. But it is a unique connection.
Dick Clark, rest in peace. Thank you for what you brought your generation and the generations that have and will follow. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.