Dave Durian, a fixture on Baltimore radio for more than 22 years, is stepping down as anchor of WBAL's morning drive-time news program effective Aug. 31, he told listeners Wednesday during his show. He has been with the 50,000-watt station since 1988.
While he will no longer be a full-time employee after August, Durian will remain "part of the WBAL family," according to General Manager Ed Kiernan.
In that capacity, the 66-year-old Durian will serve as a "relief anchor" when Bill Vanko (mornings) or Mary Beth Marsden (afternoons) are off. Kiernan said Durian will also be involved in the WBAL Radio "Kids' Campaign" charity efforts and the annual remote broadcasts from Valley View Farms.
"Dave is a wonderful, terrific guy, who is solid as a rock on-air, and we are really happy he's accepted the opportunity to remain part of the WBAL family," Kiernan said.
The station will start a "search" for someone to replace Durian after Labor Day, Kiernan said.
In his announcement Wednesday, Durian told viewers that while on vaction 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 gets up to make it on-air by 5.
Durian used the term "changing of the guard" Wednesday morning in his announcement, and indeed it is more of that at one of Baltimore's leading media institutions. In December, Ron Smith died of pancreatic cancer after sharing many of his final days on-air with WBAL listeners.
Durian and Smith were of the same era, and the trajectories of their careers are similar.
Both initially came to Baltimore as TV anchors, and both were replaced at the anchor desk. Both were hired for radio by Jeff Beauchamp, who left WBAL radio in 2009. And both found new and sustained success in radio -- for decades the voices of morning and afternoon drive on WBAL.
Durian joined WBAL-TV in 1982 as lead anchor. He came to Baltimore from KDKA in Pittsbugh where he had been co-host of "Evening Magazine" for four years.
He left WBAL-TV in 1986. In 1987, he joined Maryland Public Television where he remained until 1988 when he started his radio career on WBAL. His long run as the voice of mornings on WBAL began in 1990.
When Beauchamp left WBAL in 2009, he said one the things he was proudest of was hiring Durian and Smith for the radio station.
Smith appeared on Durian's morning show via a link to a studio in his Pennsylvania home to announce on Nov. 28 that he was too sick to appear again on-air. It was one of the most dramatic and moving live radio moments I have ever experienced, and Durian served as interviewer leading his long-time colleague through the announcement.
Durian's morning show was reformatted as "Maryland's Morning News with Dave Durian" in August of 2009, and now runs from 5 to 10 a.m. weekdays. with team of anchors and reporters focusing on news.
"I have decided to semi-retire after the privilege of wishing you a good morning every morning the past 22 and 1/2 years," Durian said on-air. "Those of you who are longtime BAL listeners probably recall many of the changes this timeslot's has gone through since my first morning of January 1st, 1990."
As for his relationship with WBAL after Aug. 31, he told listeners, "From time to time, I'll be back on a fill-in basis both here and maybe even 'Maryland's News Now' in the afternooons. And I'm really looking forward to, because it's the most fun, doing our live broadcasts around Christmas from Valley View Farms. That's part of the job I'm not ready to give up."
In a telephone interview after the broadcast, Durian said he felt "happy" about the decsion and the public announcement.
"I've done what I want to do professionally, so it's time," he said.
"I used to think I wanted to work until I fell over dead," he added, chuckling. "But I'm retirement age now, 66, and I'm seeing it differently. I don't want to work until I'm 90 and then go straight into a nursing home or hospital. I'm not that person any more."
Durian said he had been talking to Kiernan for a year or so about this transition, and that while he knows many people who are leaving the media say they are do so to spend more time with family, he really does feel a deepening "appreciation of family."
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"We have three grandkids, and there's going to be fourth," he said, "and I'm looking forward to that."