Dorsey’s 48-year radio career to end Thursday

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Jeff Dorsey talks during the Y101 morning show with Sarah Deien on Monday morning at the Y101 studio in Quincy.

QUINCY — Jeff Dorsey finally has an opportunity to chase the last of his two childhood dreams.

At age 67, he wants to become the catcher for the New York Yankees.

“I can hit. I don’t know if I can still catch,” he said. “I might have to get a crane to get me back up.”

He’s been fulfilling his other childhood dream — becoming a radio personality — for 48 years. However, that dream will come to an end Thursday morning when he signs off KRRY-FM radio (better known as Y101) for the last time. Dorsey has been working in the Quincy market since he was hired at WTAD Radio at age 25 in 1978. He has been a partner on Y101’s morning show for the past five years with Sarah Deien, who also is leaving the show. 

Why now? Dorsey said he is deferring to a news release he expects to come later this week from Townsquare Media, which owns four radio stations in the Quincy/Hannibal market and 322 stations across the nation in 25 states. Phone calls and emails requesting to speak with a Townsquare representative were not returned Monday.

“Long story short is we were notified last Tuesday. I knew that this was eventually going to come to a head sooner or later, and I would be done here,” Dorsey said after he made his announcement during Monday’s show. “It came in before I anticipated it. I would have liked to pick the date. They’re going to go in a different direction, basically. … They want to do something different with the morning show.

“I appreciate the fact that Townsquare Media has given me the opportunity to have a ‘so long good-bye’ show. A lot of times in this business, that doesn’t happen. I want to express a lot of thanks to a lot of people who helped me get here.”

Career started in Kansas City area

Dorsey’s career began at KIEE-FM in Harrisonville, Mo., where he worked for four years before coming to Quincy. He also worked for WGEM as an operations manager and as the general manager at WTAD before joining Y101 in 2001. He has won six Silver Dome Awards from the Illinois Broadcasters Association, including five for best play-by-play of a sporting event.

Dorsey, whose nickname is “The Big Dog,” says he doesn’t know what’s next. He might go see a game in the new Yankee Stadium, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland or simply drive to Peoria to spend more time with his grandkids. He’s open to suggestions for future work.

“I may find something else that I love,” he said. “If I wasn’t in this business, I would be in baseball somewhere, somehow, some way, shape or form. Maybe I would be working on a grounds crew. 

“But since I was a kid, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I remember when I was five and my parents had a transistor radio about the size of a cell phone with no wires coming out of it, and I heard a voice coming out of it. And I thought to myself, ‘I want to do this. This is pretty cool.’ I was enamored with it.”

Deien, who worked for 22 years at KHQA-TV before joining Y101, says she has “zero plans.”

“And that’s the way I like it,” she said. “I’m not looking for anything. I’m just going to enjoy.”

‘It’s been a wonderful ride’

Deien joined Dorsey at Y101 after Dennis Oliver, Dorsey’s radio sidekick for 16 years, stepped down from 2016 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It was impossible to fill Dennis’ shoes,” Deien said. “I just had to go on there and be myself. And now I don’t think anybody’s ever going to be able to fill the Big Dog’s shoes. He’s one of a kind. He’s truly one of my best friends. He has such a great work ethic. He’s so thoughtful, and we just enjoy each other’s company. The conversation you hear from us on the radio is the same conversation you would hear when we have lunch together.

“This isn’t about me. I’m just a little footnote. This is about Dorsey’s 48-year career, and it’s been a wonderful ride. We’ll always be lifelong friends. I just hate to see it end.”

Dorsey is concerned that local radio voices are becoming more difficult to find.

“I don’t have any regrets about anything I’ve done or what’s going on here,” he said. “The biggest regret is that people like Crimestoppers or the Exchange Club or Birthright can’t call and ask me to help promote their not-for-profit agency. I feel really bad about that. That’s sad to me, but that’s where local radio is going.”

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