Ray Remembers his Friend and Mentor, Dave Dworkin

As interviewed by Candice Wheeler

“Imagine the places it had been, and the stories it could tell, if only that jacket could speak.”

How did you come across this jacket?

My good friend Dave Dworkin passed away last summer, and when his sister was going through all his stuff, she invited me over to go through some of his things and take a few items. I got a coffee mug from his business Ghostwriters and some vinyl — some of which was from the old KQ library. He also had some logo wear including a couple of KQ jackets. The one I grabbed was from the late seventies. I can only imagine the parties that thing has been too — and the KQ promotions from that time. So I grabbed that and I thought: ‘I’ll wear it!’ …until I realized it was too small for me. So I decided to frame it. I thought it would be a good little eye candy for my office, and he could live on. Instead of shoving it in the closet and never looking at it again, this way other people can look at it an appreciate it.

When did you first meet Dave?

 I first met Dave when I was first getting started in the business. It would have been about 1986. He had left KQ and was working at a small station that was playing quite different music. I worked with him at that station, then he went on to go to another big FM station that oddly enough was a competitor of KQ at the time, and he brought me with him. So he got me a job at that station too.

Do you have any funny memories of Dave from your time working with him?

Back when he was training me in, you could still smoke in the studio. He would take a big puff of his cigarette and he would exhale with the mic on. He would introduce Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger with smoke coming out his mouth! To this day I kind of smell cigarettes when I play Hollywood Nights. I remember the taste — there were even ashtrays in the studio in those days!

How was he in that time? Out at events, was he approachable and warm with listeners?

Absolutely. He was very well liked and he was a very personable person, very approachable. Always smiling and laughing.

What did Dave Dworkin mean to you?

It’s funny, I still know him phone number by heart. Just goes to show how many times I called it. Even when I had my first apartment as a young man, he gave me some furniture. There is a coffee table I still have today. He was a really good friend to me.

What were some of his passions besides being an on air DJ?

He was really into comedy. He started a comedy page called Ghostwriters. He would write radio prep for other radio stations. He turned it into a company and ended up leaving the business to focus on it. When it started to expand, it became the Radio Mall where you could go for music collections, music production libraries, and radio prep. It diversified into a bigger go-to place for radio stuff. He even sold radio gear; you could buy a used transmitter or a whole studio from him. The Radio Mall became what he did full time when he left the radio business.

How was the radio business back in those days?

It was a different time back then. There was a fun rivalry between the stations. It was never evil. Even the DJs would call each other live on the air and give each other crap at the other station. I’d get a call from John Lassman saying, ‘What are you doing!’ on my studio line at my station!

What do you remember from listing to Dave on the air?

Yes, I did. I remember hearing him all over the dial, really. He wasn’t afraid to work at any dial position. Just as long as he had an audience and he could be on. When he left KQ, he jumped on another station and continued being “The Dwork.” But his biggest heyday was his time at KQ. The seventies and into the early eighties was when he was the big KQ guy.

What did he think of you?

Being a car guy that I am, I had bought a 1990 Ford Probe. It was easy on gas and it looked like a poor man’s Porsche, so I bought the thing. A few weeks later, he goes, ‘Hey, anything that’s good enough for you is good enough for me!’ Then he bought one too. I guess I had earned some respect.

How do you imagine Dave when he was wearing that jacket?

The jacket was most likely worn during his “Disco Destruction” days. During the late seventies, disco was huge, and he rebelled against it. He headed the ‘disco sucks era’ of KQ. Imagine the places it had been, and the stories it could tell, if only that jacket could speak!