I met Steve Dahl in 1978. The promotions guy at his Radio station (The Loop) asked me to meet him after one of his morning shows and take some pictures of him for publicity. We became friends and I have been photographing him ever since. He is the guy who invented talk radio (Howard Stern has admitted that he listened to tapes of Steve and copied his style). Over the years we have heard Steve have a vasectomy on the air, argue and make up with Janet, his wife, and raise three kids on the air. I photographed him with his first son Pat, when Pat was about three days old. Pat is now in his thirties, with two kids of his own.
About six years ago, Steve went of the air and started his own Podcast network, charging $9.99 a month to listen to his life unfold in public. He has always said that anything that happens to him is fair game to go out on the air (or internet).
About five years ago, he started a process of reconciling with his father (he left home at 16 to start a career in radio, and became estranged with his family. Roger, (his father) started appearing on the podcast and came to Chicago many times to see his family here.
Two weeks ago, Steve announced that his father had terminal cancer, and he was going out to California to be with him in his final days. Thus began two weeks of some of the most amazing broadcasts that I have ever heard. These last two weeks should be enshrined in the podcasting hall of fame (if there was one). Part heartbreaking, part hilarious, Steve documented the process of a loved one dying, and how someone reconciles with a parent in his last days. It was breathtaking. Every afternoon, I went to iTunes and downloaded that days podcast and listened as his father slipped into a coma, as Steve tried to navigate the business of dying (the doctors, Medicare, the paperwork). We listened as Steve arranged for his father to be brought home to die in his own home.
This last Friday, Steve started his podcast by saying, “My father passed away this morning at 6AM. Janet (his wife) told me that I owed it to my audience to produce a podcast today.” There were more tears in my eyes than when my own parents died.
One more reason that Steve should be considered one of the greatest air personalities of all time. I am proud to be his friend.