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Services Tuesday For Don Dahlman, Father of 'Donahue' TV Show

Weil Funeral Home

Don Dahlman, who turned Dayton radio talk host Phil Donahue into a TV phenomenon, died Friday, two days short of his 98th birthday.

Dahlman revolutionized TV when he lured WHIO-AM interviewer Phil Donahue over to Dayton's WLWD-TV (now WDTN-TV) for the "Phil Donahue Show" premiere on Nov. 6, 1967. For the first time, viewers watching at home could call in and question a TV show guest. As his obituary at Weil Funeral Home says, it was "an idea that would change the course of television."

The Cincinnati native would oversee the show on AVCO (later Multimedia) Broadcasting sister stations, including WLWT-TV here, and sell "Donahue" nationwide in syndication starting in 1970. He loved to talk about his "Donahue" success with a broad smile and hearty laugh.

The Walnut Hills High School and University of Cincinnati graduate served in World War II in London, where he married Phyllis "Babs" Dahlman in 1944.

A celebration of his life begins with visitation 6-8 p.m. Monday at Weil Funeral Home, 8350 Cornell Road, Symmes Township. Services are 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to to Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Cleveland, OH 44122. 

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.