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Channel X Radio staff, family, ‘numb’ after passing of founder Dennis Curley

CARIBOU, Maine — For over 30 years up until August, Aroostook County residents heard Channel X Radio founder Dennis Curley’s voice during their morning and evening commutes. Now, his family and coworkers are still processing the impact of his death at the age of 76 on Friday, Jan. 19, following a stroke.

Richard Chandler, vice president and general manager at Channel X Radio, built the first station in Caribou with Curley in 1986 and has worked with him ever since. Chandler said Curley, who used the on-air pseudonym Douglas Christensen, moved from Glens Falls, New York, to build the station.

Chandler said Curley’s passing is too recent for him to comment on the impact it will have on the station.

“It’s still early,” he said. “Everyone is numb at this point.”

Curley was “an inspiration” to Chandler, who praised his dedication to news coverage.

“He and his wife (Pamela Curley, who is a majority shareholder for Channel X Radio), as well as myself, have won ‘Broadcaster of the Year.’ I don’t think you’d find too many other radio stations in the state that have three,” Chandler said before pausing and adding, “now two, on staff in the same house.”

Chandler said Curley “loved radio” and he “insisted that live and local radio was the only way we’d ever be,” adding that a wall in the station is filled with awards Curley won for his news efforts.

“He was our news director for the better part of 30 years,” Chandler said. “Up until last August, he was a regular.”

Chandler said it was through Curley’s “teachings, inspiration, and everything else,” that Channel X has grown to become among the largest radio networks in the region, with several stations in the County: WCXU FM in Caribou, WCXX in Madawaksa, WCXV in Van Buren, and a low-powered transmitter in Fort Kent.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a native of Caribou, said that Dennis and Pam Curley have been friends of hers for many years and that they are “committed advocates for The County.”

Curley had interviewed Collins several times throughout his career and they would catch up on what they had missed since last seeing one another before each interview, she said in a press release issued Monday.

“I deeply valued his kindness, trustworthiness, and friendship,” Collins said in the release.

“Every day, Channel X honors a resident from Aroostook County with a “tip of the hat” segment,” Collins added. “Appropriately, today’s ‘tip of the hat’ recognizes Dennis for the countless contributions he has made to The County. He will be missed by his many listeners and all who were fortunate enough to have known him and call him friend.”

Curley, according to Chandler, had a history of medical issues that began in 2000 when he had triple heart bypass surgery that led to an infection, which put him in a coma for three months. Just last August, Curley had a heart attack and was hospitalized for eight days. Chandler said Curley also was a dialysis patient and had been “at a reduced capacity here for almost a year.”

He suffered a stroke on Monday, Jan. 15, while he and his wife were on vacation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and died on Friday.

“He was on life support throughout the week,” Chandler said, “and passed at 11 p.m. on Friday.”

There are no immediate plans for a funeral at this point, though, Chandler said Curley would be cremated in Florida. He said the family also has been talking about holding a “celebration of life” event in Aroostook County in June after the weather improves.

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