Dwight O. Dingle

Former Schoolteacher And Award-winning Wttr-am Radio-show Host Was Known As The 'Voice Of Carroll County'

December 02, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen , fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Dwight O. Dingle, a former educator turned broadcaster who was known for decades as the radio "Voice of Carroll County," died Thursday of heart disease at his Reisterstown home. He was 63.

In an on-air tribute Monday, WTTR-AM owner and television game-show host Pat Sajak called Mr. Dingle a "wonderful on-air talent who spoke to one person at a time, one guest at a time, one listener at a time."

In addition to being a longtime radio personality and host of WTTR's morning show, Mr. Dingle had also been the station's manager for 35 years, first part time and later full time.

Mr. Dingle was born in Waynesboro, Pa., and raised in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. After graduating from Smithsburg High School in 1964, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1968 from what is now Towson University, where he later earned a master's degree.

For the next 14 years, Mr. Dingle taught fourth and fifth grades at Timber Grove Elementary in Owings Mills.

Mr. Dingle's path to a radio career was unconventional.

"He had wanted to be a journalist when he was in college," said his wife of 40 years, Sue Putnam, a retired Baltimore County public school administrator.

"It was in the early 1970s, and I wasn't working, so Dwight wanted to get another job to supplement our income," she said.

"So he went through the Yellow Pages and stopped at the letter 'R' for radio. He then got a job at WTTR as a part-time, fill-in announcer and summer fill-in. It grew into a second career, and he ended up loving it," she said.

Beginning in 1974, Mr. Dingle became a familiar on-air sports voice in Carroll County, and through the years broadcast hundreds of games.

He also covered Carroll County high school sports, McDaniel College sports, Mount St. Mary's College basketball, American Legion baseball, Babe Ruth baseball and Carroll County Chargers football.

In addition, he broadcast the NCAA Division II basketball final-four games, NCAA Division III football and basketball playoffs, as well as the Babe Ruth Baseball Regional World Series.

Mr. Dingle made the decision to stop teaching and go into broadcasting full time in 1982, beginning as midday announcer at WTTR.

That same year, he was appointed station manager and established, coordinated and began hosting the "WTTR Athlete of the Week" program, which recognized more than 1,200 people over the years.

Mark Woodworth, WTTR news director, said the program, which always featured a male and female athlete of the week, earned WTTR numerous awards.

"Hundreds of families were touched by that program. He just looked for things like that to do for the community. He'd do live Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Westminster Fallfest broadcasts," he said.

"He really made the station the 'Voice of Carroll County,' but Dwight was really the 'Voice of Carroll County,' " Mr. Woodworth said.

Charlie Beckhardt has been sports director at the station for 20 years.

"He tried to do everything that a community radio station should do. He wore every hat imaginable at WTTR and was extremely focused on serving the community," said Mr. Beckhardt, who credited Mr. Dingle with helping him in his career.

"Whether it was large or small, he found a way to make a contribution to the community," he said.

Mr. Woodworth, who has been at WTTR since 1991 and worked for a decade on the morning show with Mr. Dingle, described him as a "very warm and friendly person. He was a big man with a big heart, and that really sums him up."

He added: "Dwight laughed easily. He radiated cheer, even if he didn't feel that way when the morning show went on the air at 6 a.m., but that's what came out of the radio."

Because of his gregarious personality, Mr. Dingle often found himself in demand by local civic and nonprofit groups to serve as master of ceremonies at their fundraising events.

Mr. Dingle was the first nonathlete to be elected to the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame, in 2007. He was a past president of the Westminster Rotary Club and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

He was a past chairman of the business and education committee of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and established the organization's Teacher of the Year Award.

Mr. Dingle was honored Nov. 20 with Dwight Dingle Day in Carroll County for his years of service to the county.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Mr. Dingle at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. John Roman Catholic Church, 43 Monroe St., Westminster.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Ryan J. Dingle of Manchester; his mother, Betty Dingle of Cascade, Pa.; and three granddaughters.

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