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R.I.P. Dennis Erectus, South Bay Radio Legend

In Culture

Before there was Howard Stern, there was Dennis Netto, known to radio listeners as Dennis Erectus. As a fixture on San Jose’s KOME in the late ’70s and ’80s, Erectus not only got huge ratings, but endeared himself to a generation of fans by pioneering the extreme brand of radio that would take over the dial years later. He died this week at the age of 61, after a heart attack.

Dennis Erectus may have been the original shock jock, but he was a shock jock with a soul. That’s what separated him from so many of the blowhards that came after. He didn’t just push listeners’ buttons, he captured their imaginations, and that’s why he continues to be one of the most fondly remembered Bay Area radio figures of all time decades after his peak. As news of his death on Wednesday at a care facility in Castro Valley began to spread, fans took to the Internet to pay tribute.

Erectus came to KOME straight out of college in 1977. Though he continued on radio until the mid-2000s, it’s hard not to feel that Erectus was lost to the airwaves long before his time. A 2006 heart attack left him with brain damage and ended his career for good. Corporate radio, no matter how hard it tried, never could.

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