Bruce Van Dyke Dead: Beloved Radio Personality Was 69

Bruce Van Dyke, the beloved radio personality constant on the Reno radio dial since 1978, has died. Van Dyke passed away on Friday, Sept. 16 at the age of 69, Brett McGinness confirmed in an obituary for The Reno Gazette Journal. According to the outlet, the radio personality passed away following a brief illness, though an exact cause of death was not provided.

Per The Reno Gazette Journal, Van Dyke "became a Reno radio icon by breaking the status quo on the airwaves." He got his start on the Reno scene in 1978 when he moved from Fresno to Reno and joined KGLR, a station that blasted prog rock, psychedelic rock, longer tracks, and a full-album philosophy. Van Dyke said in 1992, "nobody had much of an idea what they were doing. We were just music fans who wanted to do shows we could listen to," and a future radio employer once called his KGLR morning show "the most bizarre alarm clock ever." Not long after Van Dyke joined the station, KGLR switched calls to KOZZ and altered its format, tightening up its playlist. Van Dyke, however, continued to click with audiences and continued to build his rapport with Reno radio listeners across different stations, briefly shifting to KOH before he was hired by upstart hot music station KWNZ in 1985, where he anchored "Bruce Van Dyke and the Morning Crew."

Following a brief stint at KWNZ, though, Van Dyke left Reno in 1986, bringing his talents to Texas and Colorado before returning to the Reno airwaves in 1990. He became the program director and on-air personality of Reno's KSXY after he reached out to the station's general manager, De De Hagen and proposed "a station that will go from James Brown to Lyle Lovett to Simple Minds to Rickie Lee Jones." At 6 a.m. every morning, he played James Brown's "Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine" to launch adult alternative "101.7 The X" KTHX, which had the slogan, "From Frank (Zappa) to Frank (Sinatra)." Although the station's corporate owners pulled the plug on KTHX, loyal fans helped bring it back through phone calls and letter-writing campaigns. The station underwent several changes before finding a stable home in 1997. Van Dyke remained with "The X" until 2005, when he retired, instead only hosting a two-hour show on the weekends. He later returned to help launch KXNV (89.1) with Steve Funk.

"Every other venture that Van Dyke undertook in Reno was about connecting with people: emceeing local events; writing a regular column for the Reno News & Review; spending a few years co-owning Rancho Nevada and Big Ed's Alley Inn, a venerable restaurant, bar and intimate music venue, along with the Cottons; lobbying against downtown Reno's riverfront movie theater (he thought the spot needed something 'world-class, world-renowned'), McGinnes wrote of Van Dyke. "But his immeasurable impression on local broadcasting will be his legacy."

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Amid news of his passing, many Reno residents have taken to social media to pay their respects. On Twitter, one person wrote, "very sorry to hear this. I still have an X bumper sticker on my truck. RIP Bruce." Somebody else said, "Reno radio is mourning today."