One man remembers his Bonaventure adventure and how it changed his life
by Andrea Westerlund '10, '12
Dave Dugan, class of 1956, earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth – but what really proved influential in his career, he will tell you, is his graduate degree from St. Bonaventure University, which ultimately led him to “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.”
Surprisingly, this invaluable degree cost Dugan nothing. His father had taught part time at St. Bonaventure throughout most of the 1930s without pay. Dugan’s father, Walkerman “Walk” Dugan, was appointed as associate professor of Business Administration, Finance and Accounts while serving as the president of the Olean Glass manufacturing company. He was also the mayor of Olean from 1942 to 1943.
Like his father, Dave Dugan led an extraordinary life. Despite his Ivy League education, Dugan attributes many of his best memories and much of his success to Bonaventure. “I had outstanding teachers at Bona’s,” explained Dugan. “As good as and frequently better than the ones I had at the Ivy League school."
His top-tier education did not go unnoticed by future employers. After Dartmouth, Dugan was hired to work for Bradford radio station, WESB, both as an announcer and selling advertising to Bradford merchants. Dugan remained at the station part time while pursuing his master’s at St. Bonaventure.
Demonstrating the initiative that propelled his career for more than 45 years, Dugan drove to Erie Pa, and requested an audience with Bob Lundquist, the program director for WIKK radio and WICU-TV.
“A friend said Bob was from Warren, Pa. where a soft drink company, Mountain Top, was located and that Bob had been doing radio commercials with the slogan ‘Don't say Pop say Mountain Top,’” said Dugan. “I drove to Erie without an appointment and told the receptionist at the radio-TV studios I would like to see Mr. Lundquist. She asked me if I had an appointment. I said, no but tell Mr. Lundquist I said Mountain Top not pop. A minute later Bob came out of his office and greeted me with a huge smile.”
After listening to his radio interview, Lundquist hired Dugan on the spot.
Walkerman “Walk” Dugan
While working at the radio station in Erie, Dugan received an exciting opportunity. He was asked to interview the democratic candidate for vice president. Dugan assumed the interview would be for radio but learned that he would be conducting the interview for television.
Not knowing much about the candidate, Dugan called one person whom he knew would have the information he needed: Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, O.F.M., librarian at the Friedsam Memorial Library. He drove to St. Bonaventure the next day, a Saturday, to retrieve the materials and performed the interview on Monday. “Everything went so well that after the interview was over, the Radio-TV [General Manager] said I would be promoted to TV the next day,” explained Dugan.
“When I was brought over to WICU-TV [in Erie] I interviewed all kinds of people. It was like a graduate course,” said Dugan. While working in Erie, he arranged a trip to New York City to meet up with some of his Dartmouth friends. One of those friends was John Gambling, whose father worked for WOR radio. Gambling, having connections at WOR and WCBS radio, offered to call the news director at WCBS.
Dugan met with the news director for WCBS and was granted an audition. “For the next three days,” said Dugan, “I spent my vacation interviewing every kind of person you can imagine in New York.”
After the audition, Dugan met with the general manager of the station, Sam Slate. Dugan recalled that it seemed as though Slate “wasn’t interested in my undergraduate work but very interested in my graduate studies. Bonaventure came through again.”
Dugan received a job offer for an hour-long news program that would be starting soon after his audition and Slate informed him that the station had only one rule: Dugan was not allowed to date any of the women that worked for WCBS. Not seeing this rule as a problem, Dugan resigned from WICU-TV in Erie and married the sister of Mr. Slate’s secretary several years later.
A year after Dugan had accepted the job, the new program, “This is New York,” was honored with the Peabody Award. The following year Dugan moved to “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.”
During the 1960s civil rights movement, the former president of CBS News enlisted Dugan to teach broadcasting classes for minorities at Columbia University. He was also a member of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He notes that he “was very impressed with the kindness of my teachers at Bonaventure.” A kindness, he added, that he sought to emulate throughout his own teaching career.
Today, Dugan lives with his daughter, her husband, and their three children in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. Though more than a half-century has passed since Dugan’s time as a Bonaventure student, he still fondly remembers his teachers and his time at the University and associates much of his successful career with the kindness he was shown by the Bonaventure community.
Andrea Westerlund is a graduate English student hoping to pursue a career in the publishing industry after graduation.