Saturday, Jul 30, 2016
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Lewis Dickey

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In this 1975 file photo, Lewis Dickey, Sr., and his family attend a tea dance at the Toledo Club.

THE BLADE
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Broadcast entrepreneur Lewis Dickey, Sr., who died last week at the age of 86, was a remarkable man.

A Toledo resident from 1965 to 1980, Mr. Dickey raised his family here. He made a success of Midwestern Broadcasting Co., whose local stations were WOHO-AM and WWWM-FM.

Today, Cumulus Media, founded by Mr. Dickey’s sons, is America’s second-largest owner of radio stations. It operates in 110 markets, reaching 150 million listeners.

Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Mr. Dickey started in radio at a station in Wheeling, W.Va., working summers while he attended Ohio State University. He worked in broadcast sales in Pittsburgh and Atlanta before he became an entrepreneur and revived a moribund Wheeling station in the 1950s. After he had succeeded there, he came to Toledo.

Insiders who knew Mr. Dickey found him dignified and modest, and admired his broadcast expertise. His family life in Toledo also appeared ideal.

The family — parents, four boys, and two girls — lived unpretentiously on Deepwood Lane in South Toledo. The children learned from their dad, attended local schools, and absorbed our community’s values of decency.

Mr. Dickey instilled his work ethic and taught his children elements of entrepreneurship that are not part of any MBA program. His daughter Pat quoted him as telling them at the dinner table: “Look across the table, and to your left and right. These are your best friends in the whole wide world. These are the people you can trust. These are the people who are always going to be there for you.” He urged them not to fight, but to work as a team.

Mr. Dickey wasn’t the only national broadcast industry figure with a Toledo connection; George Storer was another. Yet many Toledoans remember him and are saddened that he is gone.

His success in Toledo helped launch the broadcast empire run by his sons. The lessons he taught them are of inestimable and enduring value.

— JRB

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