Tony Dean RIP

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I know it’s not as important today but when I was young one of the key requirements to finding success in broadcasting was to have a great voice.
One of the finest radio and television voices that I ever heard fell silent this past weekend when Tony Dean (DeChandt)  died way too young at his home in Pierre. 
Most people know Tony for his legendary status as an outdoorsman..his Tony Dean Outdoors TV show and Dakota Backroads radio broadcasts have been around for over 20 years and won countless awards. His popular web site receives three thousand hits a day and he wrote a weekly column for newspapers in both North and South Dakota.  
But there was more to Tony than hunting and fishing. He spent 10 years in radio broadcasting..moving to Pierre in 1968 to manage station KCCR.
He served two years as press secretary to Governor Frank Farrar from 1970 to ’72.
His love of auto racing led to Tony’s operation of State Fair Speedway in Huron for ten years and another 8 years as an announcer on the Motor Racing Network covering NASCAR races at tracks all across the country.
Lately, Tony Dean has been taking a lot of heat for his politics. A lifelong Republican, Tony has openly supported Democrats from Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson to Barak Obama. The main reason is because he found himself more in line with their approach to well as wildlife and wetland conservation issues. Tony’s lifelong goal was to make sure that future generations would continue to have open spaces for hunting, fishing and exploration.
I’m not much of an outdoorsman myself. Most of my hunting and fishing has been done vicariously through  Tony’s television shows.  I especially liked the fact that he did most of his sponsor’s commercials himself. Kind of like Paul Harvey, Tony had a special way of selling that made you want to go right out and try it..whether it was a hunting lodge in North Dakota or a recipe for mango pheasant with apple chutney. I used to get a few laughs in the Keloland newsroom when I’d do a rather lousy Tony Dean impersonation; enunciating each word slowly and perfectly with exaggerated emphasis on the SH sounds; fiSHing..marSHes..delicious Pugsley sandwiches.
We weren’t close friends but had a mutual respect for one another and whenever our paths did cross, I let him know that I was a fan.
I once asked if he’d consider taking me along some spring when he and his old pal, Doctor Bob Nelson of Sioux Falls went hunting for morel mushrooms. Now it’s important to note that those who know where these delicate and delicious fungi grow are usually ultra protective of their special spots and before taking any outsiders there; require an affidavit written in blood not to give away the location.   Well, Tony didn’t ask me to swear an oath of secrecy when he invited me on the next hunt. But, to my regret, I never made it and now it’s too late.Ironically, Doc Nelson died this last week too so a lot of morels will go unpicked next April.

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