So long, jazzoids. After nearly 30 years, KNKX’s Dick Stein calls it a career

Dick Stein finally felt comfortable telling the story — the real story.

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At long last, he was ready to come clean.

“Maybe since we’re doing, ‘now it can be told,’ I can tell you the truth,” Stein said by phone, on the first day of what would be his last week as a jazz DJ and host on KNKX.

“I never knew anyone named Jeannine. I never dated anybody named Jeannine,” Stein went on to admit.

“I just like the song.”

It was one of several revelations divulged Monday, during a wide-ranging conversation that clearly made Stein more uncomfortable than listeners are accustomed to.

After spending the better part of three decades on the air at KPLU and later KNKX, including weaving numerous colorful tales to explain his well-known affinity for the jazz standard “Jeannine,” it turns out that the 75-year-old local radio personality had no idea that his imminent retirement would strike such a chord.

Stein said the reaction to the news — which was announced in a short personal note he penned for KNKX last week — left him “overwhelmed,” and, for once, searching for the right words.

“To be honest, I really didn’t expect all of this. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal,” Stein told The News Tribune, downplaying the situation with self-effacement and humility.

“I was really just moved by it,” Stein said.

While the prospect of a career twilight tribute might make Stein squirm, it should come as no surprise that news of his retirement has reverberated across the South Sound

Having begun his career as a jazz DJ at KPLU in the early 1990s, Stein’s unique voice and offbeat sense of humor — which seem specifically designed for dry one-liners — have become staples for public radio listeners in the area.

Whether you’re a fan of his favored music or not, Stein’s familiar “Hi ho, Jazzoids!” sign on and his descriptions of the “Big Red Switch” in the studio — which back in the original KPLU days was essentially a reset button that would erase the station’s software — were long ago woven into the local cultural fabric.

So, too, was Stein’s predictable playing of a rendition of “Jeannine” every Friday.

By speakerphone from his Tacoma home on Monday, Stein said it was simply time to hang it up.

If that meant dispelling the mystery of Jeannine after all these years — and putting an end to the playful speculation and innuendo he cultivated behind the microphone, which typically revolved around fabricated romantic encounters from his younger days — so be it.

“I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Stein said of his decision to call it a career.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he added with a chuckle. “It just seemed like it was time to retire. I’m pretty old.”

Stein’s career playing jazz for local listeners actually marked his second foray into radio.

Originally from New York,

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