Dan Hurley is good at many things – except retiring. He's failed at it several times, due to his sense of civic responsibility and love for broadcasting.
Maybe this time he can finally kick back after hosting his last Cincinnati Edition talk show 1 p.m. Friday on WVXU-FM. He's been the "three-month interim host" for nearly a year. Michael Monks takes over Monday, Feb. 4, when the show resumes broadcasting five days a week.
"I 'tried' to retire 2-1/2 years ago from full-time work. I was 70 then and beginning to wear out. That is definitely true today. I simply do not have the stamina I once had," says Hurley, 72.
After retiring as director of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Leadership Cincinnati program, he was named interim president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Then WVXU-FM asked him to fill in on Cincinnati Edition when Mark Heyne left last March.
"The original agreement was that I would help out WVXU for three months, with an absolute promise that I would be out of there by June 30," he says. "I was coming off a very difficult year as interim president of the Freedom Center. I thought I could do anything for three months, but 10-1/2 months was a challenge. There is a lot of preparation for a show."
Hurley, a passionate historian, says he "stumbled into television, newspapers, magazines and now radio" by happenstance. His old boss at the Cincinnati Historical Society assigned him to work on a TV show for WCPO-TV.
That turned into a Channel 9 Cincinnati history series narrated by CBS newsman Charles Kuralt. It resulted in Hurley's excellent 1981 book, Cincinnati: The Queen City, and an offer from WKRC-TV to be Channel 12's "history expert." He freelanced 37 years at WKRC-TV, helping cover elections and campaigns, and hosting and producing Channel 12's weekly "Newsmakers" public affairs interviews for 22 years. Hurley did TV work in addition to his "day jobs," which included being Cincinnati Museum Center assistant vice president for history and research.
Decades of interviewing experience, and his vast contacts throughout the region, made him a perfect host for Cincinnati Public Radio.
"I lost track of how many guests we've had on the show that were his good friends, were in a Leadership Cincinnati class, or worked with him on some board, program or initiative," says Pete Rightmire, Cincinnati Edition producer.
Hurley "hated having to give up Newsmakers on Local 12, and Cincinnati Edition was a wonderful way to extend that sort of work ... The monthly (politics) show with Ken Rudin and Howard Wilkinson were always good," he says. "On an interview show you want to have people who are willing to express an opinion, not just repeat what was in a news story."
"On the Friday News Roundup, having Jay Hanselman and (Business Courier reporter) Chris Wetterich on the show was also excellent. They are smart, perceptive and have a sense of humor. In that same sense having Enquirer columnist Jason Williams on was always fun, even though we are frequently not in agreement about things," he says.
"I'm just waiting for my next opportunity to fail at retirement. It's too early to know what that's going to be," he joked on the show Monday.
But seriously, folks… Hurley says he will continue writing for Cincy Magazine; complete the introduction for a new coffee table book on Cincinnati; do some oral history work through his Applied History Associates company; and start scoping out other books. (Possible topics include a collection of his talks and essays from over the years; his father's World War II letters to his mother; and possibly a historical look at Cincinnati poverty.)
"I'm looking forward to regaining my own voice," said Hurley at the Catholic communicators' Salesian Guild dinner last Saturday.
The new voice of Cincinnati Edition will be Monks, publisher and former editor of Northern Kentucky's River City News website. He has worked for several TV and radio newsrooms. (Here's my December profile about Monks.)
When he starts Monday, Cincinnati Edition moves to weekdays at noon. It flips places with Terry Gross' Fresh Air, which will be at 1 p.m.
"We believe the noon time slot provides added exposure for Cincinnati Edition, a signature program of WVXU and Cincinnati Public Radio," says Kevin Reynolds, Cincinnati Public Radio community relations manager. "Those listeners who have not been able to listen because of work may now be able to tune in while at lunch. Guests are also more likely to be on the move at the noon hour and better able to fit an appearance into their schedule."
This week's Cincinnati Public Radio staff memo praised Hurley by saying: "There's no way to say thank you enough for his professionalism, skills and patience as we waited for Michael to join us. Our very best to you, Dan, and hopefully your retirement sticks this time!"
Thanks for everything, Dan.