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Dave Durian, former WBAL anchor and radio show host, dies at 72

Dave Durian, a former anchor for WBAL Radio, died of complications of cancer and a stroke Monday at his Baldwin home in Baltimore County. He was 72.

“He was the smoothest reader of the news I’ve ever met,” said a WBAL-Radio colleague, John Patti, the morning news anchor. “He could read it cold — you could give him a piece of news copy and he read it so effortlessly he made it sound like it had been news all morning.”

He also said, “Dave had a Midwestern familiarity to him. He was your friend.”

Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he was the son of Robert F. Durian, a sporting goods and insurance salesman, and his wife, Marilyn Green, a copy editor on the Fort Dodge Messenger. He was a graduate of Fort Dodge High School and spent two years in the Peace Corps.

He was sent to the Western Caroline Islands and while there, he met his future wife, Martha Maynor.

He earned a degree in journalism at the University of Iowa and worked the weekend anchor for the television station WOI.

He remained in broadcast work and held posts in Rock Island, Ill., and Kansas City.

Mr. Durian came to Baltimore in 1982 from KDKA in Pittsburgh, where he was an Evening Magazine co-host, and became a lead anchor at WBAL-TV 11 and appeared with Stan Stovall. He spent more than three years as the television news anchor and was replaced in 1986.

The Evening Sun’s critic, Michael Hill, wrote in 1986: “Dave Durian has been a good, steady anchor, the type who avoids the hype and oversell that so often dominate the styles of those in the local anchor community. He gave us the news in a straightforward, relaxed manner that seems more like a neighbor stopping over for a chat than the usual huckster trying to sell us snake oil.”

Mr. Durian then left the station and worked at Maryland Public Television. In 1988 he returned to WBAL Radio as a show host, where he remained until he stepped down in 2012. For many years he also appeared on television for the noon news.

He became known as “Morning Dave.” A 2009 Sun story quoted WBAL general manager Ed Kiernan as saying: “Dave Durian is the locomotive that drives the train.”

Mr. Patti, his WBAL colleague, recalled that Mr. Durian went on the air at 5:10 a.m. He had a theme song, Billy Joel’s “The River of Dreams,” which begins, “In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep.”

“Dave loved being on radio because of how familiar you can be,” Mr. Patti said. “He had the ability to connect with listeners.”

Mr. Patti also recalled a side of Mr. Durian his listeners did not know.

“He had this kind of bazooka made from PVC piping. It was ignited with hairspray,” Mr. Patti said. “ He’d say, ‘Let’s go on the roof and shoot potatoes.’ So we did. He’d bring a sack of potatoes and in the dark of the morning would shoot them over the station parking lot into the Coldspring Landfill. He loved hearing them land.”

In 2012 Mr. Durian, then a well-known presence on Baltimore radio for more than two decades, stepped down as anchor of WBAL's morning drive-time news program.

"I've done what I want to do professionally, so it's time," Mr. Durian said in a 2012 Sun article. "I used to think I wanted to work until I fell over dead. But I'm retirement age now, 66, and I'm seeing it differently."

He also stayed active in the WBAL Radio "Kids' Campaign" charity efforts and the annual remote broadcasts from Valley View Farms. He did voice-over work for commercials, too.

In 2012 Mr. Durian told viewers that while on vacation recently, he started thinking about all the things he enjoyed doing that "didn't involve the alarm clock going off at 1:30 a.m.," the time he got up to make it on-air by 5.

Mr. Durian kept up with his friends and former Iowa school classmates. In the spring and fall he went on an outdoor camping trip with them. The group was interested in Native American studies.

At his Baldwin home he had a hobby — working with leather. He often made knife sheaths.

“He hand-stitched leather,” his wife, Martha, said. “His work was beautiful.”

A funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home on York Road.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his daughter, Amy Durian Backhaus of Phoenix in Baltimore County; a brother, Steven Durian of Geneseo, Ill.; a sister, Diane Maxwell of Madison, Wis.; and five grandchildren. His son, Adam Durian, died in 1999.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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