By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
After 32 years, local radio legend Chuck D’Imperio turned off the microphone on his WDOS morning show for the last time Tuesday, June 29.
The retiring radio host got his start in 1988 at what was then Hastings Broadcasting in Oneonta. The best offer owner Gordon Hastings had for D’Imperio was an unpaid position changing tape reels and monitoring the station during three-hour broadcasts for the Boston Pops.
D’Imperio said the time around the station early on was enough to further his radio interest.
Soon after, Hastings sold the broadcast company to Jan Laytham and paid opportunities for D’Imperio emerged. There was mutual respect between the two, and D’Imperio soon became the morning host on AM 730, WDOS.
Laytham coined D’Imperio’s radio name “Big Chuck.”
“When she made me Big Chuck, she gave me the chance of a lifetime,” D’Imperio said.
D’Imperio and Laytham partnered with Eastern Travel to organize “Big Chuck’s Bus Trips.” Though unsure whether there would be interest, D’Imperio agreed to Laytham’s idea. The team would end up hosting 52 weekend bus trips for listeners.
“We made so many great friendships and saw many great shows. Those trips were a highlight of my career,” D’Imperio said.
For 20 years, D’Imperio was the host of “Thursday Night Jukebox,” a two-hour show on 103.9 WSRK featuring songs from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.
D’Imperio said being a radio personality is a lot of fun, but when hardship or tragedy comes, the on-air host needs to be ready. “You need to make sure listeners know that you are serious and can be trusted,” D’Imperio said.
Two of the most significant tragedies D’Imperio remembers covering are the 1994 murder of State Trooper Ricky J. Parisian and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Those were very somber but very important times to be on the air,” D’Imperio said.
Fellow Oneonta radio personality Leslie Ann Parmerter, who can be heard weekday mornings on WZOZ 103.1 and WDHI 100.3, has worked with D’Imperio for 26 years. A few years back, they came up with the idea of having “Watercooler Conversations” that would air on both of their shows. The two have had hundreds of these discussions, which can be described as talking about nothing and everything. D’Imperio and Parmerter have also used the platform for more serious discussions, including about the coronavirus pandemic.
“He has been such a positive force in my life,” Parmerter said.
D’Imperio’s retirement “marks the end of an era,” she said.
In addition to being a local radio icon, D’Imperio has also published 10 books about New York. He has two more planned for release this year. He is also looking forward to traveling with his wife, Trish, a teacher in Schenevus.
Despite the end of D’Imperio’s WDOS show, WDHI and WZOZ will continue to have new “Watercooler Conversations” between Parmerter and D’Imperio, and D’Imperio will still contribute articles to www.cnynews.com.