Written by Ric Chetter on November 3, 2021
I think I have started and stopped with this post some 50 times. Erased and re-wrote the same thing or twisted something around to get this right. You see, when Radio Memphis began, I never thought for one second I would find myself writing an honest to God obituary about one of the founders and key staff members of Radio Memphis. Not to mention a very dear friend. It is quite simply one of those things that never crossed my mind.
Two years ago, October 18, 2019 Dianna Fryer called to tell me about something I also thought I would never hear. She had been diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. I won’t necessarily go into the details regarding that and all the things that go with such scary news.
It should be sufficient enough to understand that from that very moment, we knew things were going to change around here and in all of our lives. Having said that, it should also be known that at that same point, there was never any negative talk. It was always going to be about, “…just getting through this so I can get back in the studio.” It would also be the first I would hear another now famous line from her, “I’m workin’ on it.”
That is precisely what she did. As a matter of interest, it was one of the last things she told me when she was sent home after discovering there was nothing more that could be done. “I’m workin’ on it.” She told me that the same day she was sent home during a brief visit with her and her family.
For two years Dianna was indeed working on it. Aggressive chemo treatments were started. There were multiple plans laid out by her doctors. Plans A through Z were at the ready and being implemented. Come hell or high water, this cancer was going to be beaten.
In the meantime, it would be business as usual around the station. The only obvious change was Dianna would not be doing her Saturday show Radio Memphis Around the World or the Monday evening show Memphis Metal Mondays. She came on the air and told her audience what was happening and how she was going to beat this thing and taught us all the value of strength and stoicism while facing this hurdle.
We also left all the promos on the air touting her shows. Phil Berger stepped in and took over the Monday show and we left the Around the World show in hiatus as we kept her seat open. The plan was for all of this to be a temporary setback until a return to health and “normalcy” would happen.
Dianna would make the occasional visit to the studio on good days to address the fans and give an update on her situation. You can hear all of those shows here on this website.
Her last appearance in the studio in front of a live audience came July 3rd, 2021. Radio Memphis was celebrating 10 years on the air and she was not going to miss that. Even if she only popped in for about an hour or so. (From Radioland – The Decade with D).
In August, she told me how she was a candidate for a new treatment option. One that holds incredible promise for cancer patients. It was cutting edge stuff that medical professionals had been playing with for quite some time. It might very well be the thing that stops this disease and gives her her life back.
Roughly two weeks ago, during a routine scan came the news no one was expecting.
The cancer had exploded and was now affecting nearly 80% of her. All treatments were stopped and she was sent home to family and given an estimate of two weeks. She was home for six days.
Dianna Fryer died November 2, 2021.
What a remarkably difficult sentence to write and read.
Not only did she help build Radio Memphis, she was instrumental in thrusting this little station into a national spotlight. She worked tirelessly with up and coming artists by giving them a bit of guidance. She often gave new artists not only their first airplay, but their first on air interviews.
She made headlines in other countries for her work with musicians from quite literally Around the World. Dianna held round table discussions on the air with touring managers and road crew personnel. She studied the music and entertainment industry down to the last screws. She was so prolific with her knowledge of the industry, she often accurately predicted the next big thing or industry shift and then deliver this information to her audience. Her show was certainly entertaining but she always had a keen sense of the fact that the audience should be able to take something from her show and she freely gave it all away.
She also worked with the Radio Memphis crew in how social media should be dealt with and how to learn the subtle art of talking TO an audience as opposed to talk AT an audience. A lesson too many broadcasters out there have failed or refused to learn. It was these things and many others that have left an indelible mark on our station.
We were hobbled by her absence for sure. Dianna and I spoke as often as she could muster the strength to endure a phone call. We talked business and her situation. Even though she was sidelined, she was very much a part of the conversations about station management. Her frustration from not being able to be there was palpable but she would soldier on. “I’m workin’ on it.”
There are other lessons to be learned here as well. Her tenacity, stoicism, strength, and sense of humor are all the things she left us with. Not to mention her seemingly magical use of profanity which was a sight and sound to behold. There were always lots of laughs. I’ll forever cherish those things.
As for us, she will never set foot into that studio ever again, but some of the things and ideas we had planned will continue and be implemented. Those things could not be done unless she was there. Since she has left us, we will do those things albeit a couple of years late, but they will be adapted and they will happen. She gave us the first ten years and in her honor there will be many more years to come.
We often joked about how maybe we could build something that might outlive us. For one of us at least, that dream came true. Just too soon.
Dianna’s funeral will be a private affair with family only. However, there will be a public visitation at Collierville Funeral Home at 534 W. Poplar in Collierville from 5 – 8 PM this Friday, November 5, 2021. At some point, there will be a Celebration of Dianna’s Life in our studios live on the air. Keep an eye on our social media for more.