KQV patriarch Robert W. Dickey Sr. was dedicated to news
Robert W. Dickey Sr. was just shy of his 85th birthday when he passed away on Saturday. The president and general manager of KQV Radio stayed active well past retirement age; he had been in his office as recently as Dec. 9.
The patriarch of KQV Radio, Pittsburgh’s oldest all-news station, died after a short illness.
Robert W. Dickey Sr. was 84. He would have turned 85 on Thursday. He passed away in his Schenley Farms home in Oakland.
“The lion of Pittsburgh news radio sleeps tonight,” said his son Patrick Dickey, 44, of Cranberry.
Dickey left WINS, an all-news station in New York, in 1976 to join KQV, which had recently switched formats from rock ‘n’ roll to news under ownership of Taft Broadcasting. He formed Calvary Inc. in 1982 and bought the station with Tribune-Review publisher Dick Scaife. Dickey served as president and general manager of the station and was in the office as recently as Dec. 9, his son said.
KQV aired a tribute to Dickey last night before the Christmas Mass broadcast from St. Paul Cathedral, where he was a longtime member.
“Bob Dickey was a true, old-fashioned newsman and represented the best of that tradition,” said Frank Craig, editor of the Tribune-Review. “He’ll be terribly missed by the Pittsburgh journalism community.”
Dickey was born in West Bridgewater, Beaver County, to banker Raymond W. Dickey and Fanchon Alice Hill.
The family moved to Youngstown, Ohio, after being trapped in the 1936 St. Patrick’s Day flood. Dickey graduated from The Rayen School in 1944 and attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played football after a coach noticed him walking a dog near the practice field, Patrick Dickey said.
Dickey entered the Navy after the 1944 season and was an aviation machinist until September 1945, when he returned to Pitt and earned a degree in sociology in 1949 using the GI Bill.
In 1950, he married Patricia Smith, and the couple had 12 children. She died in 2008.
He was a salesman for Dictaphone Corp. after graduation. He also was a part-time staff announcer for WJAS and did freelance commercial announcing on WDTV, the predecessor of KDKA-TV, for clients such as Gimbels, Duquesne Light and Braun’s Town Talk Bread.
KDKA Radio hired him full time in 1954 as an outside reporter on the Knight Rider Show with Bob Tracey. Over the next decade, Dickey held a number of positions with KDKA, including general sales manager, between stints at other companies.
In 1966, he became vice president and general sales manager of radio advertising in New York with Group W, known as Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. In 1969, Dickey became general manager of Group W’s all-news station, WINS, in New York.
When it came to news radio, Dickey strove to give listeners all the information they needed in 22 minutes, his son said.
“He was 25 years ahead of the cable news cycle with CNN and 35 years ahead of the Internet when it came to news,” Patrick Dickey said.
Dickey was a perennial winner of Golden Quills from The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania for his radio commentary and editorials.
“His legacy is that the all-news format has continued to flourish in this town,” Patrick Dickey said. “People have the right to know what the news is and know it on a timely basis. And it’s in the public interest that that work continues.”
As passionate as Dickey was about his role in radio, he and his wife were most passionate about family, his son said.
“He measured his success by his children and grandchildren. And the things he treasured most were by his side in the end,” Patrick Dickey said.
Dickey served as a lector at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland for more than 25 years.
“He was a staple of the noon Mass,” his son said.
Dickey was preceded in death by his parents, his wife and his brother, William A. Dickey of Youngstown.
Surviving in addition to son Patrick Dickey are his daughters, Carol Finelli Brown of Shadyside, Karen Ahmad of Baton Rouge, Cheryl Scott of Baldwin Borough, Joanne Zick of Cary, N.C., Cynthia Bergman of McCandless, Julia Mundt of Los Alamos, N.M., and Maliya McIntyre of Hampton; and sons, Robert W. Dickey Jr. of Bethel Park, William Dickey of West Newton, James Dickey of Downingtown and John Dickey of Apex, N.C. He is survived by two sisters, Wilma Woodford of Girard, Ohio, and Ruth Johnston of The Woodlands, Texas. He also is survived by 33 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received at John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. 4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street Wednesday and Thursday 2 – 4 and 6 – 8 p.m.
Funeral Friday, Mass of Christian Burial at St. Paul Cathedral 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances in Bob Dickey’s honor may be offered to: The Little Sisters of the Poor, 1028 Benton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212