I was so sad to hear that my friend and former colleague, Dave Mitchell, passed away Sunday in a car accident. Dave and I worked together on WMBI’s Morning Ride for more than five years. I’ll admit, I was pretty intimidated by Dave when I first met him. He was cordial, but very no-nonsense and occasionally annoyed when others didn’t meet his high professional standards. Over time, though, I learned that underneath Dave’s tough exterior was teddy bear and a heart of gold. Whenever he’d talk about his four kids or animals, a tenderness would come over him and you’d get a glimpse into the kind, gentle man Dave truly was.
I always felt Dave and I shared a certain affinity at Moody Radio because of our background in news. Before coming to Moody, I worked as a reporter for WANE-TV, a CBS affiliate in Fort Wayne, Indiana — and as a newswriter at WGN-TV and Fox News in Chicago. He and I would similarly complain when a feature included music or sound, for example, that wasn’t motivated by the story. When there was breaking news, he and I would compare notes and contacts and devise a plan to get the latest information. Whenever I needed help with a news-related story, Dave was quick to lend a hand. I deeply respected him for his vast knowledge of current and past news events, Chicago, and vast swaths of American history. The man had a mind like an encyclopedia and recall that made you think he had an internal Dewey decimal system. Dave was amazing.
In 2013, Dave was a featured guest on a President’s Day episode of Up For Debate. I was able to retrieve the audio and it’s posted here, so you can enjoy it, as well. Listening to it this morning, I had to smile. It’s quintessential Dave, as he talks about meeting and reporting on “Barry” Obama back when he was a lowly state senator. Dave also explains why Harry Truman was his favorite president. And, as was his trademark, Dave shares trivia you’ve likely never heard before about numerous presidents.
I will miss Dave — and his passing is a loss for this city. He knew the Lord and I have no doubt, he is with Jesus now. Below are what some of Dave’s other colleagues have to say about him. I think you’ll enjoy their thoughts and insights. Please leave yours here, as well, and join me in praying for Dave’s widow, Nanette, and his four children.
Mark Elfstrand, host of “Let’s Talk With Mark Elfstrand” on AM 1160 & Dave’s long-time on-air partner on WMBI’s Morning Ride:
Dave Mitchell and I worked together for over 14 years. I don’t recall him ever being late for work. In part, it was due to his alarm methods. But more so, he was motivated to get up and be on the radio! If you needed an on air voice, even with short notice, Dave was always ready and willing.
Dave loved his wife, Nanette, and his four children Mike, Matt, Bobby and Melissa. If they had a need, he was there. He enjoyed working on cars — and knew a lot about them. He loved reading history books and biographies and could remember facts like a steel trap. And he loved his city – Chicago – and had a vast amount of historical recall of this city.
Dave could be a bit gruff at times. It was his tenacity for things that bred this. But put a puppy dog in his arms, and the tough man melted. Dave also had a sense of humor that showed up wherever he did. We shared it on the air. And he took it on the road whenever he had a speaking engagement. And our meetings at the radio station always had plenty of laughs.
After our time at Moody Radio ended, Dave and I would have dinner about every three months or so. His pain was not finding full-time radio work with his very capable talents. He remained optimistic during this season as well, confident God could open doors at the right time.
And with that, Dave had an assurance about God’s care for his soul. His trust in the saving work of Jesus the Messiah was never in question. He now can enjoy the fruit of that faith. Forever.
Alex Bersin, former Morning Ride engineer:
Dave Mitchell was more than a colleague. More than an award-winning news guy. He was a character–my favorite kind of person. He was always candid, in jest and in spirit.
He never let me eat garlic sausages for breakfast without making a comment (or say “mercy” every time I ate an entire box of frozen White Castles). And he never made me feel less for being young and green in my career. He introduced me to Monti’s (the best cheesesteak joint in Chicago), and he joyfully discussed my favorite topics (theology and music) like a friend, never just a kid.
He had a thirst for excellence and high expectations, but he never refused help to anyone. He was a good man, and it was my privilege to know him. You’re missed, Mitch. But I’ll see you later.
Collin Lambert, VP of Broadcasting at Moody Radio:
Dave Mitchell was the consummate professional, and at the same time, a man with a deep love of life, family and the Lord. Dave was an award-winning news anchor, a treasure trove of useless and useful information, and a hockey lover extraordinaire. The Moody Radio team and I are mourning the loss, but celebrating his life today. He was always ready to share his faith with those he came in contact with. Never ashamed of the gospel. He will be missed.
Judy Kron, Moody Radio producer and former coordinating producer of Morning Ride:
When I first met Dave Mitchell, his knowledge of pretty much any subject was intimidating. You name it – sports, history, Chicago trivia, even specific dates, Dave knew the answer. I told him he would have been a great Jeopardy contestant! Once I got to know Dave, however, I found him to be genuine, engaging and funny. Over time, he would become a mentor and a friend to me as we would converse about our rival teams, the Cubs and the White Sox, alongside him teaching me about the ins and outs of Chicago traffic and finding the best news stories to report on. He also taught me that professionalism and faith can work side-by-side and compromise was unacceptable.
Personally, I admired how he greeted each morning with zest and an unwavering thirst for the news of the day. He didn’t just talk facts when the mic was lit. Rather, he put his heart and soul into presenting the news with integrity evident from him being awarded both AP and Marconi awards in his career at Moody Radio.
What was, in my opinion, his best attribute, though was how fiercely devoted he was to his family. He would often have lunch with his wife, Nanette, after work. Though he deeply loved both golf and hockey, his family far exceeded both.
Diana Berryman, Moody Radio producer and former Morning Ride traffic reporter:
Dave was intense, intelligent, and into sports! He was passionate and professional in everything he did and earned many awards for his work. He was considered a “walking encyclopedia” of Chicago knowledge and trivia. Dave loved flying and did play by play for the Chicago Air Show for years and even flew with the Blue Angels. He combined his greatest loves hockey and faith and worked with HMI’s local chapter. Dave even still played hockey himself and was a goalie.
I knew Dave for over 25 years. He was a friend, a mentor, a jokester — authentic and real in every way. We always talked about music, Chicago, old time radio shows, and sports (even though he would give me a hard time as a Cubs fan — Dave was die-hard White Sox fan).
His death is a shock and painful, but I know I’ll see him again. In the meantime, my heart hurts so deeply for his beautiful wife, children, grandchild, and other family members. I pray God’s comfort for them, and that they may know God’s peace through all of this.
Thank you Dave for being real. Thank you Dave for always striving for God’s best. Thank you for calling me a friend. Thank you God for giving us Dave’s gifts and legacy for such a time.
Brian Dahlen, co-host of Brian & Kathleen Mornings at Moody Radio Cleveland and former Morning Ride coordinating producer:
Many know Dave for his recognizable on-air cadence, solid news reporting and witty banter. But Dave Mitchell shined the brightest when the mics were off. I vividly recall the day when he stayed late to help me change a flat tire in the midst of a Chicago winter. Dull meetings were brightened by his hilarious one-liners. When I needed advice on car repairs, he bent over backwards doing research to ensure I was getting a good deal from a mechanic. Dave once even let me drive his prized Cadillac from Chicago all the way to Kentucky. Without a doubt, Dave Mitchell was generous with his time, meticulous in his work and bold in his faith in Christ.