Country Radio’s Rare Flower
Does the name Gwyneth Seese ring a bell?
If you listened to country radio in the 1980s and ’90s, you probably know Seese as “Dandalion,” the popular DJ on Carlisle stations WCAT-FM 106.7 and the former WRKZ-FM 102.3 Z-Country, where she kept listeners company during the overnight hours.
She came to be known as Dandalion in a roundabout way.
A third-shift postal worker back in the 1970s, Seese had bought a CB radio to feel more secure at night. For her handle, she first chose “Delta Dawn,” after the popular song by Tanya Tucker. Little did Seese know that prostitutes worked the highway over CB radio, and the handle of the No. 1 hooker was Delta Dawn.
“I got some interesting offers, some I never heard of before, and I was married,” Seese said in a recent telephone interview from her home in Canadensis, north of Stroudsburg.
Seese’s granddaughter suggested changing her handle to “Dandelion,” as they were looking out over a yard full of the yellow-flowered weeds. She took her granddaughters advice but misspelled the name “Dandalion,” with an “a” instead of an “e.” The misspelling stuck, and so did her moniker.
She began writing for trucker magazines and became friends with Big John Trimble, a Richmond, Va., DJ who broadcast live from a truck stop. Trimble asked her to fill in for him during a two-week vacation. She couldn’t take off from her postal job, so she quit in order to do it.
Seese enjoyed the experience and started looking for full-time DJ work. WIOV-FM I-105 in Ephrata took a chance and put her on the overnights in 1979. Her love of country music and her knowledge of truckers set her on the path to a successful career.
She joined Z-Country in 1981, and her popularity soared over the next two decades. Seese hosted a request show, playing only upbeat music, often with a theme. She would talk about her family and play new artists, often trying out a song on her listeners instead of waiting to hear if it was a hit.
“It was important to expose music to listeners,” Seese said. “I took chances with artists during the overnight. I took a chance with Garth Brooks.”
Brooks has since repaid the favor. The two share a bond, and Brooks, one of the most popular country artists of all time, has taken Seese to Ireland twice. Fellow country legend Willie Nelson took her to Europe. Musicians driving through the area would call her while she was on the air.
Her bond with the audience was even greater. She kept truckers and third-shifters awake and helped others fall asleep. She recalled one listener who told her, “Dandalion, I’ve been sleeping with you for four years. I just hope it’s been as good for you as it was for me.”
Seese was 41 when she started in radio and wasn’t a threat to female listeners. “I was a grandmother and worked overnight,” she said. “You could relate to me. If I was skinny, 20 and blond, people might not have liked me. People could identify with me.”
Seese earned widespread acclaim for her show, which was carried by a network of six stations in 1999. Her numerous national awards include the Academy of Country Music’s Disc Jockey of the Year honor in 1989. She is one of only two women in the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.
She went off the air in 2002 to work as a music director for WRKZ and WCAT.
“My life was so productive,” Seese said. “I’ve done everything I wanted to do.”
Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2009
ERIC STARK, Stark Ravings
Dandalion passed away yesterday after a long and painful illness. Fellow country disc jockeys, once Willie and Dandalion they met they hit it off right away. She was also a genuine fan of his music, playing his songs regularly on the air. Dandy became the first official president of the Willie Nelson Fan Club, and remained with the fan club until her death. She kept thousands of fans in touch with Willie Nelson and Family long before social media made it easy. She was old school; writing articles, reading fan mail and caring about the fans. She typed, cut and pasted all the fan club newsletters and faithfully mailed them out to fans for over 30 years.
Dandalion was loved by many who knew her and she will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.