Colleagues reflect on Delaware newsman Allan Loudell’s legacy

Allan+Loudell+worked+for+WPGU+and+took+the+role+of+the+news+director%2C+and+after+his+time+with+Illini+Media+he+went+to+WILM+and+WDEL+in+Delaware.+

Photo courtesy of WDEL

Allan Loudell worked for WPGU and took the role of the news director, and after his time with Illini Media he went to WILM and WDEL in Delaware.

By Matt Troher, Assistant Features Editor

Every state has its journalistic voice instantly recognizable to its residents.

For Illinois, it’s someone like Tom Skilling or Steve Cochran. New York has Bob Costas, and Maryland has Ira Glass.

Allan Loudell, Illini Media alum, was the voice of Delaware radio for more than four decades until he passed away in 2020. 

“People would turn on their radios at noon, and he would give you the world in an hour,” Sean Greene, Loudell’s former coworker, said. “He’d take you to the Middle East, he’d take you to California and if there was a big event in Michigan, he’d take you there too.”

Loudell, who hosted numerous programs on Delaware stations WILM and WDEL, both practiced and promoted journalism throughout his career, inspiring future generations of journalists along the way.

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    Loudell was interested in radio broadcast news from a young age, becoming involved with the radio station at his high school, Lyons Township High School, in 1969. Loudell worked as a student-manager at the station until his graduation in 1973.

    In the fall of 1973, Loudell moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend the University, where he majored in communications and double minored in history and political science — fields of study he would go on to reference throughout his career. At the University, Loudell joined WPGU, Illini Media’s independent, student-run radio station, where he would work to assume the role of the station’s news director. 

    Following graduation, Loudell moved to Delaware. A new state and home were no challenge for Loudell. In 1983, only six years after graduation, he became the program manager and news co-anchor at WILM, a radio station based in Wilmington, Delaware. 

    In 2004, WILM was bought by Clear Channel Communications — now known as iHeartMedia — and new ownership moved the station in a different direction, shifting priority from local broadcast to nationally syndicated conservative radio talk shows such as the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Sean Hannity Show. Due to this, Loudell left his job at WILM and took a position at WDEL, another radio station based in Wilmington, Delaware.

    At WDEL, Loudell hosted various morning and afternoon programs — although the time of day varied, his voice remained constant on Delaware’s airwaves. 

    Mark Fowser worked with Loudell during his tenure at both WILM and WDEL. Fowser praised Loudell’s extensive bounds of knowledge and thorough preparation for interviews.

    “Allan was probably one of the most knowledgeable, well-prepared, thorough, well-read journalists, let alone person, that I ever knew,” Fowser said. “He went into interviews very well prepared. He worked tirelessly, he was there from morning until the early evening and be back again early in the morning.”

    During his stint at WDEL, Loudell became known for his thoroughly researched and well-conducted interviews with politicians. At the time he was a senator, Joe Biden was a frequent guest to speak about Delaware and national politics.

    “(Biden) respected Allan enough to come on the air frequently to talk about the issues at that time,” Fowser said. “That’s just an example of the trust and the rapport he built with guests and politicians.”

    According to friends and colleagues, Loudell was a man of many hobbies. In addition to journalism, Loudell was a noted vexillologist (flag enthusiast), lepidopterist (butterfly enthusiast), license plate collector and craft beer drinker. 

    “He wouldn’t often talk about (his hobbies), but the smile on his face when somebody engaged with those topics — it was something that certainly shines brightest,” Greene said.

    In addition to his numerous hobbies, Illini men’s basketball was another one of Loudell’s strong interests. Despite moving over 800 miles from Champaign to Delaware, Loudell’s passion for the Illini men’s basketball team never wavered.

    “Allan wasn’t much of a sports guy, but if Illinois basketball was good, all of the sudden Allan wanted to talk about sports,” Greene said. “He’d ask me ‘Hey Sean, did you see the Illinois game?’ and I’d be like ‘No Allan, I do sports for a station in Delaware.’”

    In addition to his career as a working journalist, Loudell also spent time engaging with young journalists eager to enter the field.

    “He was very committed to getting young folks interested in the profession,” Fowser said. “When he’d get off the morning shift, he’d sometimes drive hours to appear at a high school or a college to speak with journalism students and do the same thing the next day. Wherever he worked, he’d make sure to assemble regular panel appearances and talk show appearances with high school journalists or local news crews to talk about what they were covering as well.”

    Loudell passed away on July 6, 2020, at the age of 64. WDEL laid him off nearly four months prior at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A journalist through-and-through, he lives on in the thoughts of his family, friends and colleagues who wonder what he would have reported on today.

    “I just can’t help but wonder how he would have covered things like the 2020 election or January 6 or the war in Ukraine — he did like to keep up with pop culture, I wonder how he would have covered the Chris Rock and Will Smith thing,” Fowser said.

     

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