You can learn a lot about a person when you are locked in a room with them for three hours a day. Dick Lamb '63, for instance, of 92.9 FM's "Dick Lamb and the Morning Wave" in Virginia Beach, Va., likes to sing along to the songs they are playing while he's in the studio. Although the audience can't hear him, his co-workers can. "He thinks because he can't hear himself -- because he's wearing headphones -- that we can't hear him," says longtime co-host, Paul Richardson. "This is the worst part of the job," adds co-host Jennifer Roberts with a smile.
If that's as bad as it gets, then it must be a good gig. When asked what he would be if he weren't a DJ and radio station owner Lamb responds: "A well-respected popular singer."
Poking fun at each other is all part of the morning show atmosphere, which is meant to be light-hearted and informative.
"We are bombarded by bad news all day long," says Lamb. "People listen to us because they want to be entertained." Lamb says his concept of a morning show involves a lot of activity -- news, weather and traffic are all delivered by different people. He has his two co-hosts, Roberts and Richardson, in the studio with him as well. On July 31, 2008, Lamb celebrated 30 years on the air doing what he calls a "big" morning show, although he has been involved with radio and television for over 50 years. The mayor of Virginia Beach even called him on the air and told him she was officially declaring it "Dick Lamb Day."
Lamb, who was born Norman Beasley, is known in the community for his positive, cheery attitude. He's so good-natured that when his boss many years ago asked him to take the name Dick Lamb, he did so without reservation. It seems that the guy the station originally hired for the position was named Dick Lamb, but when he decided not to take the job they were stuck with expensive promotional material with his name all over it. So Beasley agreed to change his name and eventually Dick and his entire family took the Lamb moniker legally to avoid confusion.
Lamb got hooked on the excitement of broadcast at an early age, when he used to accompany his cousin to the radio station where he worked in Warsaw, Va., and tear the news off the wire. While Lamb was in high school, a radio station opened near his house in the Dundalk area of Baltimore where he grew up, and it was here that he had his first official "job" in radio, with the station taking advantage of his voice and teaching him to read commercials.
In the fall of 1959, Lamb entered William and Mary as a history major. But unlike most of the other students, he had a family to support as well. He took classes by day and worked at the local radio station, WGH, at night. Eventually, a work opportunity took him out of the area and he never finished his degree. He did, however, return to the College in 1974 to work as a play-by-play announcer for the basketball team until 1978.
Those were glory years of William and Mary basketball and Lamb has fond memories of traveling with the team all over the country. He watched the Tribe lose a close game to the University of California-Los Angeles (55-59) during the 1976-77 season, and a year later witnessed the Tribe beat the University of North Carolina.
But it wasn't just basketball that was happening in William and Mary Hall. "I also brought what I believe was the first concert to William and Mary Hall -- Sly and the Family Stone," says Lamb. When Sly arrived at the Hall it was obvious he was not in the right state to perform, but Lamb and his business partner didn't let that stop them. "We had to drag Sly through the bowels of William and Mary Hall, but once we pushed him on stage it was like nothing was wrong."
In 1960, Lamb once again left the Hampton Roads area to work in other markets. He returned to WGH in 1964 and eventually ventured into another avenue of broadcast -- television. He hosted The Dick Lamb Show, a talk show on a local Norfolk, Va., television station during the 1970s, interviewing famous guests as they came through town. He even turned away Shirley MacLaine once because she arrived at the studio when there were only five minutes left in the broadcast.
Then in 1978, he and a colleague, Larry Saunders, decided to buy a radio station, what came to be known as 2WD. Here is where Lamb crafted his famous brand of morning show that is still popular with his audience at The Wave. Lamb and Saunders bought several stations around the country and eventually sold them all, even 2WD. Lamb decided to get back into ownership in 2002, and so he helped form Max Media with his partners. However, times had changed with radio station ownership.
"Back in 1978 Larry and I owned the stations; these days my partners and I own about 1 percent each and the equity companies own the rest."
In March 2007, Lamb lost his wife of 37 years, Kathy, to lung cancer. She never smoked a day in her life. When he returned to work the next week, people wondered why. "Being on the radio was therapeutic," he says "When everything else around me at the time was tragic and disturbing, radio was an escape from that."
Now settled permanently in Virginia Beach, Lamb remarried in June 2008 to Jennifer Rose. He has no plans for retirement.
"People ask me why I don't retire," says Lamb. "The way I'll retire is to fall over on the console. I have gone further with less talent than anyone you will ever meet."
And if that were true, he wouldn't still be on the air.