Alan Almond, "Pillow Talk" host, dies in Beverly Hills
Alan Almond, the legendary longtime radio host with the baritone voice that defined the popular "Pillow Talk" show on WNIC-FM (100.3), has died.
A relative found Mr. Almond's body Tuesday at his home in Beverly Hills, police said. He was 67, records show.
A cause of death had not yet been determined, a city police supervisor said Tuesday night.
For years, Almond's resonant voice carved out a nightly niche on Metro Detroit airwaves, and his broadcast became "one of the most romantic, intimate radio shows of all time," Fred Jacobs, president of the radio consulting firm Jacobs Media, wrote in a recent profile posted on the company's website.
"I think Alan really understood the sense of setting a mood and setting a tone," said Jacobs, who had met him in the 1980s. "It was just really interesting at this time that a service like Spotify is now discovering that when people put together their play list… most of the time it is about mood."
Known for his smooth voice and a penchant for playing love songs, Mr. Almond earned many fans during his long stints at WNIC, including throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He also was known for avoiding having his picture taken.
"On purpose, we never let him appear as it was part of the mystique," said Ed Christian, former president and general manager of WNIC. "Indeed, he was who you created while listening."
Christian first met Mr. Almond when the soon-to-be star applied for a job in the 1970s.
"He started with weekends and then Jim Harper, my program director, and I recognized that he had an extraordinary talent for evenings," Christian said Tuesday. "We started him off slowly, and 'Pillow Talk' evolved so that it was the most popular nighttime show in Detroit."
Some recall Mr. Almond often started the show with "Angela," the theme to the 1978-83 television show "Taxi." "We knew what to expect for the next few hours: His soothing voice, his mellow tunes, and a safe place to relax and enjoy the rest of the evening," according to the "Pillow Talk: Alan Almond on WNIC Detroit" Facebook page.
In the studio, Mr. Almond focused on those tuning in — counseling callers, fielding requests, signing off each night with "Sweet dreams, angel."
"Alan was a very caring person when it came to his audience. He would not rush anyone off the phone. He would take the time to listen to them and help them out with any issues they were having," said Matt Dziewit, a former producer. "He cared very much about the show. It was his passion. He put his entire heart into the show. … It was just the person Alan was."
The personal approach is what endeared him to scores of listeners — especially women, Jacobs said.
"They all went to bed with him. He was a really important part of why radio matters to people. He really did connect before there was social media."
Mr. Almond was so popular, Christian wrote in an email Tuesday, "Many nights at the station there would be people waiting in cars for him to come out of the building. They would ask 'Are you Alan Almond?' He would reply 'No … he is still in there working and writing … sometimes all night. ... I'm just the guy who runs his control board' (he said this in a somewhat falsetto voice)."
Admirers rushed to reminisce Tuesday on the Facebook page dedicated to the show.
"How many nights I fell asleep listening to 'Pillow Talk' or would be listening on my drive home from my parents or from night classes," one listener wrote. "So many great memories have been had while listening to Alan Almond. RIP Alan Almond."
Another use wrote: "Sad to hear. I loved listening to this show. His voice is unforgettable."
At one point, Mr. Almond was named "Best Radio Voice" in a 2003 "Michigan's Best" list The Detroit News published.
The year before, he had left WNIC. When returning there in 2005, Mr. Almond cited a failed contract agreement with the station, according to a News article.
Mr. Almond also worked for a radio network and in the early 1990s briefly headed a WXYT-AM (1270) weekly call-in show, "LoveLine," the News reported.
WNIC is set to air a tribute to the radio host starting at 7 p.m. Friday, according to its website. The funeral will be private.
When Jacobs wanted to spotlight Mr. Almond and his work as a "Radio's Most Innovative" honoree, the celebrity was "actually reluctant to sing his own praises, so I ended up talking with a lot of other players at the radio station."
Still, once the online feature was finished, "he was thrilled," Jacobs said. "He was really excited, heard from all kinds of people he had not been in contact with for years."
Away from the microphone, Mr. Almond loved traveling, painting and watching sports — especially teams at his alma mater, Michigan State University, Dziewit said.
Another passion: lending an attentive ear to his friends.
"What you heard on the air was a lot like how he lived his life," Dziewit said.
Mr. Almond mostly kept a low profile in recent years, but his legacy lasts.
"He was Icarus and flew high," Christian said. "He was complex and had a wonderful laugh while being shy. ... He left an indelible mark in the psyche of women in Detroit."