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Dan Dibley: A Rise Guy Who (Seemingly) Never Sleeps

The former Marin Catholic and College of Marin tennis player has risen up the sports-talk radio ranks, thanks in large part to brother Mike, a P.E. teacher at Redwood.

When it comes to ranking the most accomplished sports families in Marin County, the Dibleys surely rate among the heavyweights.

First there’s Doug Dibley, a starter on arguably the best prep basketball team in Marin County Athletic League history – Drake High’s unbeaten state champions of 1981-82.

And older brother Mike, a P.E. teacher at who also is very active in the San Rafael Little League, St. Raphael’s CYO program and Davidson Middle School athletics.

But suddenly their great accomplishments have been dwarfed by younger brother Dan, who made his name as Gary Radnich’s debate partner at KNBR and now has gone on to become co-host of 95.7 FM The Game’s new Rise Guys morning show weekdays from 6-10 a.m.

“I feel very fortunate,” Dibley assured after the new network’s third show Wednesday.

And, he says, he owes it all to Doug and Mike.

“My brothers were my world,” he said of growing up in a sports-oriented family in Fairfax. “I was basically the son of a Little League from April to July each year.

“I’d go for the first game of the day and stay all day. Sometimes I’d be the batboy for their team, but there were many times I was the batboy for the opposing team, which I guess is where the contrarian in me started.”

Dibley took that “if you say the sky is blue, I’m going to argue it’s gray” act to the masses in recent years on the “Gary Radnich Show.” He also did sports updates and contributed commentary occasionally to the “Murph & Mac” morning show on KNBR.

But in the end, it wasn’t everything he wanted. There was always "the window" -- the physical barrier between the "update booth" in which Dibley worked and the studio in which “the talent” (Radnich, Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey) resided.

That, in part, is what prompted him to answer the phone when The Game’s Jason Barrett called earlier this year.

“The vice president (of Entercom, the station’s parent company) is Dwight Walker, someone I have worked for in the past and I respect greatly. And the program direction, Jason Barrett, is regarded as one of the best in the business,” Dibley explained of his move. “Mixed with the opportunity to be involved in something brand new – something dynamic and creative from the absolute genesis of it -- that, to me, was an incredible opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.”

That said, it certainly wasn’t a no-brainer.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make professionally,” he admitted. “(Being employed by KNBR) was incredible. Working with Murph and Mac, two guys who I truly love, was very rewarding. And then creating verbal sport-talk jabs with Gary every day was a great experience.

“But the word I kept coming back to was legacy. I could have a 30-year career as a sports update guy and never have a chance to do something truly bold. When this station becomes a success, I will have been a part of it from the very beginning. I was one of the first guys through the door.

“In the end, that will carry more weight than a long run with the established station.”

Less than a week into the new show’s lifetime, already one change is obvious. Dibley has been promoted to the “talent” room – the studio.

“I knew next to nothing about either of them,” he said of co-hosts Whitey Gleason and Mark Kreidler, who brought the “Rise Guys” label with them from Sacramento. “The whole thing with me taking this blind leap, I basically put my career in Jason Barrett’s hands. He said: I found these two guys who will be perfect for you. It was love at first sight.

“It’s much more of a shared pie. At the other shop, I was in my own studio. Now I’m in the same room with the people I’m working with. By the very nature of the physical (layout), I’m part of the show.”

The same could be said of the Dibley family dynamic. He’s certainly the newcomer to sports stardom, and he knows exactly who to thank – his brothers.

“Doug was my athletic hero as a kid,” Dibley gushed. “Mike showed me how to be an entertainer.”

Like his older brothers, Dibley played a little baseball himself. But mostly, he ran cross country and play tennis at Marin Catholic, then served as what he labeled the “court jester” for John Panagakis’ tennis team at College of Marin. He also coached volleyball at San Rafael (girls) and Drake (boys, winning three consecutive North Coast Section titles), and completed four .

Along the way, the 42-year-old also got married … again, with one of his brothers playing a major role.

“Mike was running the Ross Adventure Camp. He hired me in 1991,” Dibley recalled. “At the same time, he hired Chanda Brewer. She was from Tiburon and he had coached her in high school basketball at Redwood.

“I’ve known her for 20 years and we’ve been married for 13.”

That wasn’t the only life-changing experience Dibley had at the camp.

“I saw his day-to-day act in front of 100 kids,” he noted of brother Mike. “I learned how to be able to hold the audience’s attention. Teaching summer-camp activities and doing radio, they’re very similar.”

The Dibleys of Fairfax are now the Dibleys of Petaluma (Doug), of San Rafael (Mike) and of Oakland (Dan, Chanda and their 8- and 10-year-old children). That said, you’re as likely to find Dan at a local sporting event as at home.

Having signed off on his last sports update on “The Game” by 11:30 a.m., Dibley still has time at night to be the radio voice of the San Jose SaberCats for KLIV-1590, to serve as a sideline reporter for Comcast SportsNet at San Jose Earthquakes matches, and do color commentary for the San Jose Giants, Stockton Ports and a wide variety of high school football and basketball games for the Comcast Hometown Network.

“I’ve been able to do it for years,” he said of the day-night coexistence. “It has helped me be aware of future baseball prospects, and what’s going on in soccer and football.

“As long as I can fulfill my duties in the morning, I hope to keep doing it.”

Dibley awaits the day another Marin County team can recapture the magic provided by Mike Saia, Steve Kenilvort, Chris Fulton, Dan Hunt and Steve Lavin in 1982. Oh, yeah, and “the forgotten fifth starter,” as his biggest fan calls him – Doug Dibley.

If it were to happen again, younger brother looks forward to covering it at night on television, then analyzing it first thing the next morning on the radio.

They’re called the Rise Guys, but sometimes you wonder: Does Dan Dibley ever sleep?

Brent Ainsworth August 06, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Really enjoyed this piece on a really nice guy. Good show, Dibs.
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