It’s a bit of a whack upside the head to see that George Chapple – better known as “Dark Star” – has passed away:
Chapple grew up in Ohio and Long Island, NY. He was a Vietnam veteran, and originally came to the Twin Cities with his parents in the 1970s.
After dabbling in the auto business, Chapple became known to radio listeners in the 1980s via Steve Cannon’s WCCO Radio show where he handicapped horse races at the newly-opened Canterbury Downs (later renamed Canterbury Park).
Before that, though, he was a regular caller on sportstalk shows all over the Twin Cities, including KSTP when I was there in the mid-eighties.
The brief Strib obit skips past what was a convoluted and almost comical path to sports-radio celebrity. When I first met Dark, he was hosting a cable-access handicapping show at Canterbury Downs, in the next press booth over from the KSTP Sportstalk show I was producing. I ran into him again in…er, 1988? He and, of all people, Mike Gelfand were hosting an evening sportstalk show on the old AM1470 in Anoka, doing a remote broadcast from an old Chi-Chi’s in Brooklyn Center. In both cases, he bellowed out “Mitch!” – to me, one of the lowliest peons on Twin Cities radio – like I was Steve Cannon himself.
It wasn’t long after that that he got his job at ‘CCO.
And I spent years thinking of that example – going from regular caller to night-time host, one of America’s dream jobs. And the lesson of that example – make your own opportunities, and be both creative and persistent about it – was in the front of my mind in 2003 and early 2004 when I first broached the idea of an all-blogger talk show to AM1280.
So anyway – RIP Dark Star.