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Thank you, Dylan...

Dylan Willows ended his radio career reminding listeners that "It's all about love."

Sitting with my thoughts over the loss of such a larger than life individual – a massive contributor to his community; a routine source of laughter, insight and inspiration to his audience; a devoted family member and genuinely caring friend. No two words break through my clouds of grief more than, "thank you..." words I will never feel I've said enough to Dylan.


Thankful is the best way I can describe my nearly two decades of interactions with Dylan Willows. Even before we were colleagues programming the same radio station, I was a music fan who flipped to 94.5 FM for the very first time, thankful that a hip hop station launched in my car's frequency range with "Big D" behind the mic in the mornings. Little did I know that a number of years later, I would wind up working with Dylan, thankful for the inspiration and motivation many of us felt because of his talent, drive and enthusiasm for the business we were in.

Dylan and I hanging out at Rifflandia 2022

In a few different ways, I'm thankful for how family-oriented Dylan was. Whatever the project (on and off the air), he usually made sure his family was involved in one way or another. Because of this, my colleagues and I got to know and spend time with wonderful people like Dylan's mother, Marie, and his sister, Sheena. We felt welcomed and included, always able to look forward to a warm hug from Marie during the cold mornings of our station's Toy Drives or joking around with Sheena at a music festival. I'm thankful for his devotion to his family and his love for his wife, Sam, which demonstrated to many (including myself) that career success can be attained without neglecting those who matter most in our lives.


For nearly two decades, I felt in awe of Dylan. I was such a fan of him (and the rest of the announcers with whom I worked). There was this weird feeling of intimidation that came with stepping into the doors of that radio station every day – getting to see and interact with the very people that entertained me and made me laugh during my commute to work. Many of the projects I got to work on in my first year at The Zone were in direct support of Dylan's fundraising initiative as a media rider for the Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock. It was in that first year that my level of respect for Dylan rose up to meet my level of fandom for the man. And it set the stage for an unforgettable working relationship.

In 2008, Dylan participated as a media rider in the Canadian Cancer Society's Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock

Just last summer, Dylan and I spoke about our years in “The Zone Family” being “the good ol' days” and how we're lucky enough to have recognized them while we were in them (and yes, we also laughed at the fact that we fully knew we were referencing an Andy Bernard quote from The Office). That particular day is one that will likely never leave my collection of Dylan memories as it was on that day that we announced to the staff that we were ending the run of my show, The Mixtape. Dylan immediately reached out and asked to meet me for coffee to console me over the decision. I was so touched, honoured and appreciative of his generosity that day. But, in thinking back, Dylan's supportive nature was a norm around our halls. He was the big brother of The Zone Family – our source of encouragement and advice – and I'm so thankful to have had him in our corner.

Dylan and The Zone Family at Rifflandia in 2016

In the last several months since I've moved on from The Zone, I'm thankful that my new path has been driven by some of the last words Dylan spoke into a mic: “It's all about love.”

Thank you, Dylan.

Dylan hosting the main stage at Victoria's Canada Day

 

From Dylan's Family: It is with immense sadness and sorrow that we announce the passing of Dylan Willows. He was surrounded by his beloved wife and immediate family. Dylan’s final days were spent as any other, filled with laughter; love; music and the occasional tease. The family requests privacy at this time as we start our new chapter without our ever constant Big D.

In lieu of flowers, Dylan's family has requested that a donation be made to the following charities that were near and dear to Dylan's heart:

They also ask that you keep Dylan's love and passion for music alive and support your local talent by taking your loved ones to see a local artist and supporting The Zone's Band of the Month Program.

 

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