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We Lost One of the Best in Dave Reinhart

 

I don't think I've ever written or spoken these words about anyone to this point in my career....but...
 
We truly lost one of the best broadcasters to ever walk the hallways of radio stations this past weekend.  Dave Reinhart passed away in The Villages just north of the Tampa Bay area.  He was a mere 67-years old.   
 
Dave was known for several things in this business.  He was a very successful disc-jockey in the 60's at WCOL in Columbus and WSAI in Cincinnati among others.  Then being the responsible kinda guy that he was....he went out and got a real job.....as a stock broker.  Dave had a family and a future to secure and he made his family priority number one.
 
Then amazingly....after something like 20 years in the brokerage business, Dave took a big pay cut and came back to radio full-time, his first love.  He returned as the Program Director of 700 WLW in Cincinnati.  Dave had been doing weekend oldies shows on WLW for some time while secretly harboring a desire to program the station.  You see Randy Michaels had become so busy trying to grow Seven Hills/Republic/Jacor that he couldn't devote the amount of time he once did on making WLW one of the best talk stations ever. 
 
Randy needed someone really smart, someone with passion for this business and most importantly, someone he could trust to give his baby to.  Dave Reinhart was that somebody.  Dave performed brilliantly in continuing what Randy had started and moving it to a new level.
 
Dave and Randy didn't necessarily always agree on everything Dave was doing at WLW, but Dave's instincts were always right on the money.  And Randy was fiercely loyal to Dave, just as you would suspect.  I remember one time when then WLW General Manager Dave Martin told Rhino that they were going to sell a Sunday night block to financial talk guys.  I think WLW may have still been doing oldies shows with Dusty Rhodes on Sunday nights at that point.
 
Well Dave Reinhart informed Randy Michaels and Dave Martin that he would be at his house and didn't plan on returning until this Sunday programming insanity had subsided.  Randy backed Rhino and Martin relented.  No paid programming on WLW and Rhino returned to the job.  When is the last time you heard of a Program Director digging his heels in over product integrity?  And certainly when is the last time you saw a PD say they wouldn't be back to work until the integrity had been restored and secured going forward?  Maybe.....never?
   
After a great job of programming The Big One in Cincinnati, Dave was given the opportunity to rescue a bunch of us down here in Tampa at WFLA and WFLZ.  Tampa was sort of the new frontier for Jacor in those days.  The company had owned the stations for two years and they were still bleeding to death.  Dave Reinhart was brought in during the spring of 1990 to right the ship.  And what did he find upon arriving in the Bay area?  Two radio stations that would be described by some as....well, out of control. 
 
But really, it was sort of - kind of organized chaos.  This was the era of Marc Chase, Lionel, Tim & Tom, Bubba The Love Sponge, Mark Larson, Jay Marvin, Jack Harris, Tedd Webb, The Three Little Pigs, MJ & BJ, The Rush To Excellence Tour and people with names like Bobby Q. Chicken, Fonda Peters, Hardin Long…and the list goes on. You begin to see the challenge Dave faced when he arrived on Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa.  
 
In less than two years Dave had these stations humming.  They were growing ratings and revenues, printing with black ink now and Tampa had truly become one of the jewels in the Jacor crown.  Before Rhino....we were just the market everyone liked to visit so they could hang at the Mons Venus.  
 
Reinhart truly changed that.  Now people wanted to come to Tampa because there were two great radio stations operating here.  93-3 FLZ, The New Music Revolution and Newsradio 970 WFLA.   Of course everyone still wanted to go to the Mons as well. And please don’t misunderstand….Dave Reinhart was not a Mons Venus kind of guy. He certainly had no problem with everyone else going there and he may have unwittingly paid a few expense tabs from the Mons. 
 
Dave will be remembered for so many good things.  Something he always did that I really admired and is far more difficult to find the time to do these days and then be effective in doing it....  Dave would walk the halls every afternoon starting in one corner of the building and working his way all the way around.  Usually, he focused on the programming side of the building since much to his chagrin; his office was at the head of the sales cubicle farms.  This is how he always seemed to know what was going on and if nothing else, what the vibe was.  Hard to describe what that means but I'm guessing most of you know.  If nothing else, people knew that Dave cared, cared enough to come around almost every day and ask questions and offer help and guidance.  
 
Here's something else I'm going to say about Dave that I'm not sure I've ever said about another human being...at least not one in radio.....I never saw Dave Reinhart lose his temper.  That's really tough when you manage radio stations with the cast of characters he had through the years.   
 
There are few people in my career that I actually consider a mentor. Dave Reinhart is absolutely one of those guys. From watching as he programmed 700 WLW, no doubt the biggest influence on my philosophies to this day in talk radio…..to learning under him when he was the Vice-President and General Manager in Tampa and ultimately the Gulf Coast Region of Jacor and later Clear Channel. He taught me so much. Dave Reinhart taught me more than I will ever be able to describe in an already too long blog entry.
 
But it is only fitting that the longest blog entry I’m ever likely to write, is in tribute to one of the finest individuals I’m ever likely to know….Dave Reinhart. From the early days of cruising in a houseboat on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky to the hectic years of consolidation, to tricking his beautiful wife Joanie when he would have her filling in at the front desk….Dave Reinhart was one of the best RADIO people to ever wear the cans or sit behind a desk.  May God rest his soul and smile upon his family. 
 
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