Entercom Media

Remembering Dark Star

WCCO legend died 6 years ago

June 01, 2018 - 1:52 pm

By Lindsey Peterson, WCCO Radio Program Director

When a person leaves us, it's easy to say "they're missed".   And of course we mean it.  However, it was proven to us again at WCCO this Friday morning, that Dark Star is not only missed, his legend has continued to grow. 

A post on the Star Tribune website launched a remembrance of George Chapple, otherwise known as Dark Star, that we truly weren't planning on doing.  Text messages from former co-workers, phone calls from listeners, and memories from staff turned into on-air interviews with Mike Max and Chad Hartman.  When Dark Star left all of us 6 years ago, June 1st, 2012, he left us wanting more of the "Darkman".  It's a tribute to a personality that grows larger as the years tick by.  Why not embrace someone who has a legacy that carries on six years after they die?  

I wrote an article back in 2012 when I was Assistant Program Director at 'CCO, about my relationship with Dark and what he meant to the people he worked with.  There was much more there than what you heard or saw on-air, as Mike Max talked about on the radio this morning.  He had very little family (no siblings) and his inner circle of friends were really his "family".  I got to count Dark as a friend and that meant a lot to me.  

Part of what I wrote in 2012 was that he helped so many people that you didn't know about as listeners and "never expected anything back".  Well, sort of.  I wasn't telling the whole truth there.  If you've seen "The Godfather", you understand how it worked with Dark (this scene with the Funeral Director).  He'd do almost anything for you.  But one day he'd ask you for.... something.  You didn't know when, maybe it would never come.  It might be as simple as "drop this off when you see Reusse".  He said to me once in his apartment, "if anything ever happens to me, you see this box under the sink?  Good.  Get rid of it."  I didn't ask, he didn't tell.  I still don't know if he was just messing with me or not.  

My point is this: Dark was a giver.  He was also a taker.  He built his life off of doing favors and taking favors.  His friends and co-workers will joke that you didn't want to "owe Dark anything".  The truth is, we all owed him something.  He probably owed us something too, and what's wrong with that? 

Now, Dark could also be more than a little coniving.  If there was a way to benefit Dark, he was all over it.  He was also just plain honest about it.  In a weird way you had to respect him for it.  The stories are endless and I won't repeat them here (even the internet has it's limits).  You knew he was full of BS, but it was so entertaining you just let it go!  He'd literally call me, ask me to give him the Monday Night Football schedule for the next month, then say "I need a sick day here, here and here".  I knew he'd use them at some point anyway so might as well embrace what you can't control.  What a manager I was!  Some battles you just can't win.  

Here's the Dark Star I'll always remember though.  When he left WCCO in 2009, he called me a few days later (it was rare he didn't call every few days no matter what was going on).  He told me how much fun it had been in our (too) short period of time together, and he wanted to make sure he could still call me.  We'd still see each other Sunday nights on the "Sports Show" (I was privilaged to play a small behind-the-scenes roll on that show).  He'd call all the time.  Just to see how I was, to give me tips on a race I had no interest in betting on, tell me stories about what he was up to, etc. 

Today, it reminds me of how little we connect with people.  I'm actually startled when my cell phone rings, it happens so rarely.  Very few people still take the time to call and talk.  There are texts, and emails, and Facebook.  Dark Star, despite his "mythology" was a person who loved the company of other people.  He wanted you to come play golf.  He loved taking you to lunch, or hanging out at the track with the guys.  That's what his radio show was too.  I told him once he LOVED being "Dark Star from WCCO Radio" and he'd never want to give that up.  He told me I was right.  Even when he walked away from here, he still found a way to be "Dark Star of  KFAN".  It was the people and he wanted those connections. 

Worth remembering, on a day that we apparently won't forget six years ago today.