Chris DiPaola Death, Obituary – Christopher DiPaola, who dedicated his entire life to Westerly radio station WBLQ and the neighborhood, has passed away. He was 49. Although a cause of death has not been disclosed, pals said they believe he passed away due to an unexpected medical episode. Following the station’s announcement of his passing on Friday, the daytime program was devoted to memories of the station’s owner and self-described “ringmaster.”
In his hometown of Westerly and the surrounding area, DiPaola has long been a staple. He had recently pushed for a long-term lease extension for the radio tower of his station on Westerly municipal property. He was known behind the microphone as “Crazy” Chris DiPaola, and he often filled hours of airtime with his radio-friendly voice and animated banter. Tom Nall, a resident of Westerly who first listened to WBLQ before becoming close friends with its owner, said of him, “He was a treasure.” “This person devoted his everything to his family, his neighborhood, and his community.”
The only local radio station in Westerly is WBLQ, which broadcasts a variety of music, sports, and local programs. It is the only station on AM 1230 and 103.1 FM where you may hear Westerly Town Council sessions. WBLQ concentrates on Westerly and the neighboring areas, including Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton. It is also accessible online to anybody in the world. According to Steve Conti, DiPaola’s radio right-hand man who manages the technical side of the station and its affiliates, “I can’t say I’ve met anyone who loves the community, especially this area, more than that guy.” He was Westerly and Chariho’s biggest supporter.
The community wants to renovate the region where the station’s AM tower is situated. DiPaola and supporters of the station have recently been before the Municipality Council to ask for a 20-year lease extension for the property; the town had been considering a five-year lease with extensions. A five-year lease extension was compared by DiPaola to telling your spouse you love them forever but you can only commit for five years at a time. It would be too expensive to move the tower, which had been there for years even before DiPaola bought it, according to DiPaola and his followers.
At meetings in the past few weeks, members of the Town Council expressed their support for the radio station and tried to tamp down fears over the town’s commitment to the station’s future. A lease deal still hasn’t been ironed out. Conti said the station would continue on, though it will be a manpower challenge without DiPaola, who did everything from hosting shows to taking out the trash. DiPaola also owned I-105.5 in the West Warwick and Coventry area.
A thriving AM radio station in 2022 is unusual, according to Conti. “So many AM stations are closing down or going out of business.” DiPaola began his lengthy radio career at a young age. Longtime buddy Caswell Cooke, who is currently a member of the Westerly town council, recalls visiting Friendly’s once when they were teenagers. DiPaolo asked for water. DiPaola stated, “I’m saving my money because I want to buy a radio station eventually. In the end, he was correct. Cooke recalled that back then, they used to record shows on tape cassettes and experiment with a small transmitter in the garden of DiPaola’s parents. DiPaola was a fan of Bob Barker, the host of the game show WBLQ, and 66 WNBC in New York, which served as an inspiration for that station.
“He was just so passionate about radio,” Cooke said. “Besides his family and his children and his wife, radio was the major part of his life.” In the most recent video posted on the station’s Facebook page, DiPaola donned a cowboy hat to give away tickets to a haunted house. “What’s your favorite station?” DiPaola asked the winning caller in the sort of set-up familiar to listeners of commercial radio everywhere. “WBLQ,” the winner responded.
But WBLQ was more than just fun and games. They delved into hyper-local local politics in a way you don’t see as much in the modern media age. And for big events, too, WBLQ became indispensable: When Superstorm Sandy hit and people lost power, many turned to WBLQ. DiPaola was out there making sure the station kept running, giving out information in a time of crisis. Full Story
Tributes to Chris DiPaola
As a result of the announcement of Chris DiPaola’s passing being made public, friends, family, and other people who were close to Chris DiPaola are going through a period of intense grief. I don’t believe that life should be viewed as something terrifying. In my opinion, it’s very similar to getting a soothing massage after a long day at the office. In the end, you will have to pick yourself up and head back to work at some point. To sum it all up, that pretty much sums up life, death, and the economy.