I went to a reunion of my high school graduating class last week. I hardly got inside the front door before somebody asked me: "Have you heard about what's happening with Lou Dean at WRVA?"
The story had just been in the daily paper. Dean's schedule was being cut back.
You have to be a Richmonder of long standing to know how much Lou Dean means to those who grew up here. From 1957 to 1977, he kept us company with "Music Till Morning" from 11:30 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. At a time when few radio stations stayed on the air past midnight, Dean's voice was a warm, comforting presence, a reminder that there was more to the dark than things that go bump. He was there for those who worked the midnight shift, for those out late on a date, and for those who liked a little music as they drifted off to sleep.
Do you remember his theme song those three chimes and then the swelling orchestra? I called Lou the other day to ask him what it was. The song was "Devotion" by Otto Cesana. Those three chimes signaled the beginning of five hours of great music and interesting conversation, from that rarest kind of disc jockey, one who thought interesting thoughts.
The station's 50,000 watts meant that Dean's show was heard far beyond Richmond. "Music Till Morning" had fans from Western Europe to South Africa. I even managed to listen occasionally in Germany's Eifel Mountains, where I was stationed in the Air Force in the late 1960s. "Hey, guys, listen up. This guy is broadcasting from my hometown."
Lou Dean hasn't done his late-night radio show for a long time now, but this city is famous for its long memory. And when they write the history of radio here, Lou Dean's name will be right up there at the top, just where it ought to