John Dickensheets, a longtime Charleston radio talk show host who said he pioneered the sports talk radio format in the area, died on Saturday.Dickensheets, who had been fighting the effects of Parkinson's disease for several years, was a native of Raleigh County and grew up in Milton. He said in a 2009 interview with the Gazette that he wasn't sure if he was born in 1940 or 1941, because his birth certificate was lost. His obituary said he was 71 years old.A political science graduate of the University of Cincinnati, and the school's mascot for two years, Dickensheets ran unsuccessfully for the state Legislature before turning his attention mostly to sports.After college, Dickensheets said in the 2009 interview, he began working at WCHS Radio for the two men he considered his mentors, Joe Farris and Ernie Saunders.
"I started doing a talk show, giving scores and information about things around here. I've done 1,240 of them. I stole the idea from stations in Cincinnati and Cleveland," Dickensheets said. "Now there's a sports talk show statewide, but we did the first one here in Charleston. I consider myself the godfather of sports talk [in West Virginia]."Dickensheets said he began his show with WCHS announcer Dick Marino and Gazette sports editor A.L. "Shorty" Hardman. They were later replaced by Danny Wells, former Gazette sports editor and now a member of the state House of Delegates, and Chuck Landon, now a columnist for the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington."We worked together for years on the radio talk show. He was very knowledgeable, kept up with it real well," Wells said Sunday evening. "He was a great friend and very well liked by all the coaches."Reached Sunday evening, Dickensheets' wife, Janet Dickensheets, said her husband would have wanted to be remembered for his loyalty and dedication to his work."He loved his job so much," she said. "He was one of those who absolutely thought he was going to be working the rest of his life - he was never going to retire. It was never a job to him, it was something he enjoyed."Dickensheets was like a father to Janet Dickensheets' son, who was three years old when the couple met, she said. Dickensheets had no children of his own, she said."He was like a father to him," she said. "He considered my son his child even though he knew his father."He was also a proud grandfather to his stepson's four-year-old daughter, she said."He was a wonderful and loving husband," she said. "He was hard on the outside but anyone who truly knew him knew he was sensitive and caring and warm on the inside."Dickensheets called baseball games for the Charleston Charlies and Charleston Wheelers; football and basketball games for Marshall University, West Virginia State College and the University of Charleston; the Charleston Distance Run; Golden Gloves boxing events; and hundreds of high school sporting events.Dickensheets' funeral is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane. Burial will be in Forest Memorial Park, Milton. Visitation is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home in Charleston.