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Brighton Reservation has new radio station manager

Evans started managing WTIR on Jan. 10. (Courtesy Darlene Evans)

Those tuning in to the Seminole Tribe’s country music radio station – WTIR-FM 91.9 – can expect to hear a new voice on the air. Darlene Evans is the new manager of the station broadcasting from the Brighton Reservation. She started in the position Jan. 10, replacing 8-year station manager Charles “Chuck” Herlihy, who died last summer at 67.

Evans, 63, has spent more than four decades in radio – the last 32 years as an on-air personality for KISS Country 99.9-FM based out of Miami. Fans knew her as the “Midday Mom” on the “Dar’s Diner” show.

Evans was laid off in late 2020 at KISS Country after then-parent company Entercom restructured in the midst of the pandemic. Evans said it was a tough experience to go through, but she later saw the job opening with the tribe as a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

At KISS Country, Evans primarily lived at her home in Weston, but she won’t have to commute that far to Brighton. In the early 2000s, she and her husband Larry bought property in Lakeport, about 12 miles from the reservation. Evans mused that the drive to Brighton from Lakeport is at least an hour shorter than her previous commute.

But Evans’ proximity to the Brighton Reservation isn’t the only connection she has with the tribe. KISS Country has operated as a vendor at the Seminole Tribal Fair & Pow Wow since before the Hard Rock Hollywood was built. Evans has also introduced country music acts at tribal events.

Evans met then-Miss Florida Seminole, Cheyenne Kippenberger, at a previous Tribal Fair & Pow Wow. (Courtesy Darlene Evans).

Further, she said she was already a fan of WTIR before the job opening came up.

“I had always listened to WTIR when I was [in Lakeport] and talked to Chuck a couple times,” she said. “He’d play Merle Haggard, Luke Combs, Tammy Wynette and the Everly Brothers. It was so much fun to listen to. I loved what Chuck did.”

Evans said the structure that houses the radio station – the Florida Seminole Veterans Building – is also special to her. Her father, a colonel in the Air Force, was killed in Vietnam in a helicopter crash, and her brother, who died of cancer, was in the Army.

“When I found out I was working in the Veterans Building with the bronze [military] statues and the [Vietnam War-era] helicopter outside – it’s amazing,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I’ve always supported the military.”

Evans said she’s begun to meet the tribal community and plans to stay engaged – doing on-air interviews with tribal members and tribal employees when possible – and asking the community for feedback.

“The bottom line is I’m here to serve the tribe. Something that I really want to do is put on some Creek [speakers]. And I was told by [Brighton Councilman] Larry Howard: ‘Don’t mess with the Merle Haggard,’” she said with a chuckle.

Evans has two adult children – her 33-year-old son is a Miami club DJ and her 30-year-old daughter is a Miami makeup artist. Evans’ husband is an assistant to disco and funk musicians KC and the Sunshine Band.

The Florida Seminole Veterans Building is located at 800 East Harney Pond Road.

Evans with country music duo Big & Rich at the Tribal Fair & Pow Wow in 2020. (Courtesy Darlene Evans)
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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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