For generations of Rochesterians, Dave Kane was the familiar voice who joined them for lunch each workday and helped make the afternoon a little more tolerable. After this week, his loyal listeners will need to make other plans.
The longtime 96.5 WCMF midday host announced his retirement plans at the beginning of his show on Monday.
“Friday will be my last day here on WCMF,” Kane said at the beginning of his show. “I put in my papers for retirement and let management know last week. Now I’m letting all of my ‘Workforce’ friends know, too”
Kane said felt fortunate to have lasted so long in the radio industry.
“The road has finally come to an end and it’s time for me to hang up my headphones,” Kane told listeners. “I love you and I’ll be here in the studio all week.”
Kane, who turned 63 earlier this month, has been with the station for 40 years. “It’s not an easy decision and not one arrived at hastily,” Kane told a Democrat and Chronicle reporter before making the announcement. “But for reasons both personally and professionally, the timing seems right.”
Kane said he plans to take some time off to recharge before deciding what’s next, but hinted that he might return to the air in the future in a more limited role.
“I might come back in the near future to host a ‘Breakfast with the Beatles’ show,” Kane said, something he’s done on Sunday mornings for many years. “I’ve also become the de-facto rock and roll eulogist, so I may come back on those occasions when a notable figure passes away.”
Kane also said it might be fun to continue his Thanksgiving Day tradition of playing “Alice’s Restaurant,” Arlo Guthrie’s 18-minute talking blues anti-war song.
“The door has been left open for me to return,” Kane said.
But Kane, a Brooklyn native, left no doubt that he planned to stay in his adopted hometown.
“My life is very firmly established in Rochester,” Kane said.
Music is his passion
Kane graduated from the College at Brockport in 1979 before launching his radio career in Rochester. He figured he would only stay a few years before returning to the New York City area to work for one of the stations he had grown up listening to.
But he grew to love the place and quickly become a fixture in the Rochester media landscape.
“I found something early in my career that I loved to do in a place I loved to do it,” Kane told the Democrat and Chronicle in a 2019 interview. “After a couple of years, I stopped looking for a different gig.”
Kane began hosting the midday show on WCMF in February 1981, and later that year was named the station’s music director and assistant program director.
Music has been Kane’s lifelong passion, and he cultivated an encyclopedic knowledge of the bands, the songs, and the history of rock and roll.
“Because I loved music so much I would read everything. I would read all the liner notes and the credits and magazines and books and biographies,” Kane said.
In between songs, he shared historical perspectives and tidbits of information about the artists or recordings. It’s these gems as much as the music itself that helped Kane build a loyal audience over the years.
But it was the ritual of his midday show as much as the music itself that helped him build and retain an audience.
He started playing “work force blocks” early in his career, an hour of music each day united around a single theme or a band. For many years, his show gave away a free lunch each day to a lucky listener and their co-workers.
And for decades, Kane ended each week by playing the same song, “Shanty” by Jonathan Edwards, just before his shift ends at 3 o’clock.
“That’s the ceremonial kick-off to the weekend,” Kane said. “People look forward to that, they sing along, and they say, ‘The weekend’s here.'”
Connecting directly with listeners was always important to Kane, and he enthusiastically embraced the advent of social media.
“No inquiry or effort to communicate with me goes unanswered, and I think people appreciate that,” Kane said in 2019. “I answer every phone call. I respond to every email. Any message that we get through the web page or social media — there’s not a comment or thought that is not responded to.”
Kane was honored with a “Special Merit Award” during the induction of WCMF to the Rochester Music Hall of Fame in 2019. He was also nominated for a prestigious “Radio Personality of the Year” Marconi Award and is a six-time nominee for Billboard Magazine’s “Music Director of the Year.”
His alma mater, SUNY Brockport, recognized Kane as a “Communicator of the Year” as well as a Communications Department “Alumni of the Year.” In 2018, Kane received SUNY Brockport’s “Outstanding Service Award,” and in September 2019, he was inducted into the WBSU Hall of Fame at SUNY Brockport.