The definition of the verb "croon" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is "to sing or speak in a gentle murmuring manner, especially to sing in a soft, intimate manner adapted to amplifying systems."

With his cool and collected baritone voice, friendly lilt and syrup-smooth tempo, the sound of local DJ Steve Deno’s voice hasn't faded out of favor in half a century on the air.

So while he does not exactly sing, he has delivered massive amounts of music to the biggest listenership in the radio market on Southwest Kansas SuperHits 95.5 FM and 1470 AM, and he has no plans to retire, ever.

"You gotta listen to something while you work," Deno said.

That is why Deno, 65, wakes up at 5:05 a.m. every weekday to breathe life into a three-hour morning show on which he can play and say whatever he wants.

"That’s rare these days," he said. "Personality has gone by the wayside."

The Hawaiian shirt enthusiast has worked for every radio station in town and describes himself as goofy and sometimes sarcastic. But he is doing what he loves, so he says he has never worked a day in his life.

"I could play the same songs in the living room and not get paid for it," Deno said. "It’s not a job. It never has been. If I retired I’d be bored stiff."

Always a man of the people, Deno said he could not afford to retire even if he wanted to.

He now also works full-time as a security guard at the Boot Hill Casino and Resort, but he said his favorite off-air gig was at the now defunct Hastings Books Music and Videos.

"My favorite part of working at Hastings was recommending music to people," he said.

Deno’s devotion to connecting people with music is the one constant in an ever-evolving formula of media format changes.

He remembers fondly the days he could go to music stores to buy records (by Elton John, Dr. Hook and Paul McCartney, to name a few) specifically to bring back "the deep tracks," songs not released as hit singles, for his radio shows.

"Nothing was automated back in the old days," he said. "Still, it’s better than it was."

That is not to say Deno is hip to downloading music on iTunes. He said he uses that service "not at all."

"I like to have a hard copy of something, rather than it floating around in cyberspace," he said.

Deno turns up his nose at trends currently popular with the human population, such as talking politics and taking vacations.

"I steer clear of politics because no one needs to hear that junk," he said. "There’s too much of that anyway."

It is not surprising the man who will never retire does not jive with those who work and live for vacation time.

"They can go on their vacations," Deno said. "I go to Walmart."

Specifically, he goes to the music section in Walmart, where vinyl records are once again for sale. Deno said he is pleased to see the changes in music media come full circle.


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