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Dakich drives change with his radio show

Non-profit organizations could take a lesson from Dan Dakich about how to mobilize a community.

When he speaks, people listen. And they act.

Dakich Show
Dan Dakich’s show is more than sports.

Best known for his work as an ESPN college basketball analyst and former coach, Dakich is host of the Indianapolis-based Dan Dakich Show where sports and life take center mic each weekday.

Little holds-barred, Dakich’s show is Indy and Big Ten heavy, as one might expect from a former Hoosier hooper, but conversations often take unexpected turns. While they may involve sports stories of national interest, they might veer into song and society. Song certainly entertains, but it’s the real-life get-real stuff that drives his audience.

“I modeled my show somewhat after the Bob & Tom radio show,” Dakich said of the long-entrenched Indianapolis-based production. “Despite their fart jokes and innuendos, I liked that they humanized their show. I also admired that they did a lot of things in the community.”

Eschew the chew

Among topics that have resonated with Dakich’s listeners during the last year-and-a-half have been the hazards of using smokeless tobacco and dangers of obesity. Each, according to Dakich, a Gary, Indiana native, are ongoing problems for much of his state’s population. Instead of just spewing statistics about how bad they are, however, Dakich shared his own challenges and invited his audience to join the good fights with him.

“I chewed for more than 20 years,” Dakich said. “It took waking from a dream about me floating above my daughter’s future wedding to essentially scare me straight.”

He quit chewing five-years-ago, and hundreds, who have dutifully reported in via phone call, social media and private email, joined him.

Worth the weigh-in

While he continues to applaud listeners that share their stories about the tough road off tobacco, Dakich more recently shared that he wanted to drop some weight. Call it the Dakich Weight-Loss Challenge or tag it with any other name, but his fight has also turned into his audience’s prizefight. Fans tweet photos of their of scales during weekly weigh-ins and call into the show to commiserate with Dakich. He, in turn, provides coach-like support to keep them going.

“Sometimes you need a kick in … and if I can be that kick, I’ll embrace it,” Dakich said.

Retweeting fan posts with their strides and struggles are also part of the program.Scale

“It got back to me that people like to see themselves retweeted, so if that provides some kind of support and recognition of something good their doing for their lives, I’m thrilled to do it,” the 53-year-old Dakich said.

The sports talk audience response to living healthier has been a pleasant surprise for Dakich.

“I’m surprised and flattered that people become so invested,” Dakich said. “The ditch tobacco message really took off to a degree I didn’t expect, but absolutely appreciate. I know how hard it is. The same with losing weight.”

Let’s not forget that Dakich has a lot of fun with his show that launched in October 2008. He entertains as much as informs and educates.

More than a brand 

Broadcasters often ask me how to build a foundation for their personal brands. I tell them to start with showing their audiences the real person behind the mic.

It’s served Dakich well. More importantly, it serves an audience he empowers each day on-air and online.

©Gail Sideman;


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