Getting Personal: Deane Geiken

Getting Personal: Deane Geiken

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, Deane Geiken, the director of WPCD 88.7 FM at Parkland College, chats with staff writer Paul Wood. The 52-year-old Cissna Park native, who now lives in Paxton, has done about every job you can do in radio, even though he started out studying computers. The radio station is celebrating its 40th year. Geiken is married, has two children and is a fan of German shepherds and Germany. He also classifies himself as a sci-fi/fantasy/gamer geek.

When did you become the WPCD director?

I took the job at WPCD in 2014. Before that, I was the director of the Illinois Radio Reader at the University of Illinois, where I worked for 20 years. I was a student at Parkland College from 1983 to 1986. I got my associate's degree in computer programming. But I took the radio production and broadcasting class as an elective and fell in love with it. So I stayed on as a DJ at WPCD for several semesters and never really lost contact with the station. I later earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Illinois State University. And in 2014, the station director position opened up and I sort of came back home.

Did you have a mentor?

While at WPCD as a student, Dan Hughes was the station manager and taught the classes, and I really, really learned a lot from him. He actually is responsible for getting me my first job in radio and starting my career. Gerry Brock was also a huge influence on me and taught me many things about radio that you can't learn from books and classwork.

What do you love most about radio?

Everybody loves music, so that's the easy answer. But for me, I think it's the ability to reach out and entertain or inform people. I worked for 20 years as the director of the Illinois Radio Reader, a resource for the blind. When I was at the Radio Reader, I felt really satisfied reaching out to the visually impaired people, helping them. Since I've been back here at WPCD, what I love about it is working with the students. I love the creativity and imagination and the enthusiasm of the students. I hope that they are enjoying their time at WPCD as much as I did when I was a student.

Did you have a favorite DJ growing up?

Tommy Edwards from WLS. He worked with Larry Lujack.

What's something that almost nobody knows about you?

I have a lot of money invested in board games. And now my wife knows.

What are you reading right now?

Two books: "The Great Train Robbery" by Michael Chrichton and a fantasy book called "Throne of Glass" by Sarah J. Maas.

Where on Earth are you dying to go?

I don't believe in bucket lists, because if you really want to go somewhere, you'll find a way to do it. I had always wanted to go to Germany, and I've been lucky enough to travel to Germany twice now. So I guess I'd like to go to Morocco or New Zealand. And I would not mind a chance to travel to space, but technically that is not on Earth.

What are the names of your dogs?

Gunnar, a 95-pound German shepherd, and Maxel, a 7-week-old German shepherd.

What would you order for your last meal?

Crab legs or sushi. Because I could eat them forever.

.Who are your favorite musicians and why?

The Alan Parsons Project, The Police and The Who. I really love Parsons because of the thematic music they made, The Police because they really hit a cord with me in the '80s, and The Who, because they just rock.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

I have a ton of "happiest memories," so it is hard to choose just one. Most recently, visiting the ancestral hometown and the home of my German ancestors and visiting my ancestral church where so many of my German ancestors were baptized, confirmed, married and given last rites.

What's your best piece of advice?

You make your own hell. Everything we do comes with a choice, and how you choose to live your life is totally on you. Don't blame others for your situation.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

I worked on a farm, bailing hay, and made probably $3 an hour plus a Bernell sandwich. (Named after the farmer. White bread, one slice of meat, one leaf of lettuce and one slice of cheese. No mayo.)

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

That would have to be the decision to go back to school and get a degree in broadcasting and mass communication. I had been working in the computer field, and I started to realize that I did not like working with computers. My wife pretty much had to kick me to accept that I hated them and make the jump to go back to school. She's smart like that.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I keep plugging away at it until either I have fixed it and it isn't stressful anymore or I have used up all of the curse words I know.

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AltoonaSue wrote on March 04, 2018 at 8:03 am

Deane is truly a gem of this community! I had the privilege of volunteering at Illinois Radio Reader when Deane was there, and he was always incredibly dedicated to serving the organization's mission. Keep up the great work!

borderbelle wrote on March 04, 2018 at 11:03 am

I don't know Deane but I love his advice.  More people should wake up and realize he is right. And working until you fix your situation is also good advice.   He is one smart cookie !