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Reflections on a Diamond

May 12, 2014 - Jennifer Brookens
Last week, a professor that had a great deal of influence on me passed away.

We crossed paths when he first took over teaching several of the mass communication classes at Black Hills State University. I had just taken over as the program director for the campus radio station. At the time, the station was largely ignored by most of the campus except for the music geeks such as myself and a few stoners that just wanted to score some free CDs.

But that was all about to change under the watch of the legendary Dave Diamond.

He had been through this before: instructing at colleges and turning around the mass communication department. He had been one of the hottest radio jocks in the 1960s, and even had a role in pop culture. He'd tell his stories about helping produce the song "Incense and Peppermints," and for those who didn't believe him, he showed a copy of his royalty check a few weeks later. He caused controversy during his time on the air by playing seven-minute long songs when two-minute pop hits were the order of the day. He stumbled onto this group called "The Doors" and was one of the first jocks to give them airplay. Sounds like some sort of hippie fantasy, right? Except his stories were true. (See the link that cites these stories in his obituary).

Fast-forward 30 years, and Diamond (which is what everyone called him) was still stirring up hornets nests (appropriate since the BHSU mascot is the Yellow Jackets). That first year for both of us was frustrating: sometimes that frustration was at the powers that be, sometimes at circumstances, and sometimes at each other. I admit I didn't always take his advice and I know he got upset when he saw good potential being wasted. But if he believed in you, he'd have your back, encourage and support you, and he'd keep pushing you to do your best.

We had loosely remained in touch over the years. I've seen the students that were beside me during that time and those that have received guidance from Diamond since then go on to do great things. The radio (and TV) studios are now a focal point of the college, instead of being hidden in a windowless converted closet in the library basement. And anytime you listen to the radio or watch a local TV station in Rapid City, most likely you're watching or listening to a Diamond protege. Many have gone even further, with some of my classmates going on to markets such as Denver or Bakersfield, Calif. And in the case of my husband and I, we settled in Fairmont and recruited a few other Diamond students over this way, too.

I always hoped to find and connect with him one last time, to say thank you for all the encouragement and for believing in me. Hopefully, wherever he is now, he knows just what a great effect he had on so many of his students. Shine on, you crazy Diamond!


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