Glenn Mitchell, 1950-2005: We have a tendency to break rules here at the Dallas Observer, even those we make ourselves. For example, in our annual Best of Dallas issue, our staff writers are not supposed to give the same award to the same person two years running, since we like to spread the love.
That was a rule we routinely flouted when it came time to pick the best local radio talk show host. KERA's Glenn Mitchell and his eponymous afternoon show pretty much had a lock on that one, rule or no rule. For seven years running, either Mitchell himself or the show he hosted was singled out by our writers, readers or both as the best Dallas radio had to offer. It's not that we were lazy or that the talk radio landscape lacked competitors. Mitchell was that good: amiable, smart and intelligent. Whether interviewing actors, authors or ex-presidents, Mitchell was a natural conversationalist whose inquisitive mind and easygoing manner engaged both his interview subjects and listeners.
We're sorry to be saying these nice things in past tense. Mitchell, 55, died suddenly at his home Sunday morning. We and a large chunk of North Dallas radio listeners will miss him.
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"Mitchell can hold his own no matter who's on the other side of the microphone, and his show will keep you in your car for a few extra minutes, maybe make you postpone lunch a half-hour so you won't miss a word," we wrote of Mitchell in 2002. His noon-to-2 p.m. show was "wildly entertaining, dastardly informative and harpooningly to the point, it's the local intelligentsia's preferred manner of intercourse," we wrote of The Glenn Mitchell Show in 2004.
"It's a huge loss for us, personally, professionally," says Jeff Luchsinger, station manager at KERA. "Glenn was a touchstone for us. He went back to the first day the station went on the air," working there off and on since 1974. "You couldn't have designed a better talk show host."
Added sadness: A national audience was about to hear what North Texans had been bragging about, as Mitchell and KERA had just concluded an agreement with satellite radio network XM to carry the show on its public radio channel in 2006.
Mitchell is survived by his wife, Susan Krasnow, a former Dallas Observer editor. Memorial services are still being scheduled, but fans can surf to www.kera.org where a forum has been set up for listener tributes.