Former Lexington news anchor Sam Dick joins WEKU radio staff

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Sam Dick has come out of retirement to take a part-time position with WEKU public radio.

Sam Dick has come out of retirement to take a part-time position with WEKU public radio.

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Longtime Lexington news anchor Sam Dick says that whether he’s dropping off junk at the landfill or stopping in to a local barbecue joint, people often stop him to say, “we miss you.”

Soon, they’ll have an opportunity to catch Dick on-air again, though this time he won’t be in front of the camera.

Dick, who retired late last year after 34 years anchoring the evening news at WKYT, is joining the staff of WEKU, the public radio station of Eastern Kentucky University, as a part-time reporter.

Dick said he was intrigued by the idea of working in public radio and was enticed by the freedom to choose what stories to work on, work from home and set his own hours. He expects his first story to air late this month.

“I’m excited about it,” Dick said. “I feel like a rookie again.”

‘Just not cut out to stop doing what we do’

While much of his career has been focused on political and investigative journalism, Dick said he now plans to work on human interest stories that highlight Kentuckians who might not otherwise make the headlines.

“I’ve always been a storyteller,” he said.

The arrangement came about after Tom Martin, host and producer of WEKU’s “Eastern Standard” program, interviewed Dick about his retirement.

“This whole idea of retirement, quote unquote, is really meaningless to a lot of us,” Martin said. “We’re just not cut out to stop doing what we do. Sam is one of those.”

WEKU is growing its staff, said Mike Savage, the station’s director and general manager, and Martin floated the idea of Dick joining WEKU to both Dick and Savage.

“Before I knew it, he was hired,” Martin said.

Martin said the kind of stories Dick plans to do “will help us convey more of the flavor of our region.”

“It’s exactly like what we would like to have happening on the air,” Martin said.

Savage said the station has given Dick carte blanche to select his own story topics, “extending what he did on television to the radio audience.”

“He knows how to do this,” Savage said. “It’s been a while.”

Dick said he actually got his start in radio.

“My first experience was at a student-run radio station,” he said, at the University of Georgia, where he got his journalism degree.

He joined WKYT in 1979, then left for work in New York and Orlando in the mid-1980s before coming back to Lexington and WKYT in 1987.

Dick said he is impressed by the staff of WEKU and its work.

“They’re aggressive with their journalism and their storytelling,” he said, noting that there are fewer radio stations producing local newscasts now, and they fill an important role.

WEKU broadcasts on nine FM stations in central and Eastern Kentucky, according to its website.

In recent years, Savage said the station has grown the share of its funding that comes from donors as opposed to the university, making it “more balanced.”

‘He’s a well-respected, hall of fame journalist’

The addition of Dick, he said, is part of an overall effort to have the station take on a position of greater prominence in Central Kentucky.

“He’s a well-respected, hall of fame journalist,” Savage said. “Sam has a big following. People trust him.”

Dick will be producing a few long-form feature stories a month, “telling the stories sort of off the beaten path of Kentucky folks,” Savage said. He’ll be a one-man band, conducting and recording interviews and editing the sound he collects into stories that will air during shows like “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

Outside his new position, Dick said he and his wife, Noelle, are living in Garrard County and enjoying lake life.

“I really fell in love with the lake,” he said, noting that he wanted a job that wouldn’t take away from “the peace and tranquility that I feel out here.”

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