Washington's Wolfman Jack
Don Dillard, who died May 28 at 74, operated a 250 watt station in Wheaton that was a force in bringing rock music to a local radio audience weary of Doris Day, Percy Faith and Eddie Fisher. Dillard's obit is here.
Dillard was a powerhouse in the late 1950s and early 1960s, along with TV dance show host Milt Grant, in introducing early rock bands to the local scene. Moreover, Dillard hosted "sock hop" dances at the Silver Spring Armory, Glen Echo park and other locations to promote the music.
What I found most intriguing was a comment by Joe Lee, who grew up in the area and ran a record shop in Rockville. He said many other DJs were told not to play "too much" rock music in the late 1950s, for fear of alienating the widest possible audience. Dillard did what he damn well pleased because his father owned the station. It was called WDON, in his son's honor.
Actor, lawyer and economist Ben Stein, who grew up in Silver Spring, once summed up Dillard's approach: "If listeners called in to complain about Don Dillard playing rock music in the morning, Don had a few words for them. 'I'm going to play what I like. And if you don't like what I like, just turn the dial a little bit in either direction -- and we're gone!' Never before or since have I heard such perfect insouciant self-confidence about a man's choices or how well he knew he fit into his world."
We welcome any further memories of listening to Dillard on the AM dial or at a local sock hop.
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