A Resounding Hometown Enthusiasm

By Lauren Wiseman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2008

Danilo Diron came to Washington in 1989 with his wife and two daughters. He was in search of a life better than what he had in his native Uruguay, where he toiled as a social security official.

He became one of the most recognizable voices in the region's Latin American community, a broadcasting star known for his perceptive and enthusiastic radio analysis of D.C United soccer games.

"He was tremendously enthusiastic about our team . . . which is somewhat unusual for a broadcaster," said Kevin Payne, president and chief executive of D.C. United. "His love for our team was so palpable that it was hard to not get caught up in Danilo's personality and his enthusiasm."

On air, Mr. Diron was in his element. He felt most at ease seated at a microphone, talking about "fútbol." Since 1998, he had been the color announcer for more than 400 D.C. United games on Radio America, WACA (1540 AM), which broadcasts the games in Spanish.

In January, doctors told Mr. Diron that he had no more than nine months to live. The colon cancer he had been fighting since 2000 had returned. After the bleak prognosis, he turned to his family and said, "Do not throw in the towel, 'cause I'm not."

Mr. Diron, who was 63, found solace in his job and continued to work until a few weeks before he died Oct. 10 at his home in McLean. One time during his illness, he hosted his afternoon radio show, "La Mesa Redonda del Fútbol (The Soccer Roundtable)," from his hospital bed.

Danilo Noel Diron, who had been a youth soccer player in Uruguay, did not begin his life in Washington as a sportscaster. He parlayed his office skills into a job as an advertising salesman at the Spanish-language radio station WILC (900 AM) in Laurel.

Within a few months, he was promoted to sales manager. And he made news around that time when he reported for WILC on a business scheme to defraud Hispanic customers in Fairfax County.

At WILC, Mr. Diron began his career as a sports commentator, hosting "Comentando El Mundial," a show dedicated to the 1990 World Cup competition in Italy.

When Radio America was established in 1997, Mr. Diron became the station's sales manager. A year later, when the station became the official Spanish-language radio station for D.C. United games, he enthusiastically accepted the job to analyze team games.

"You never knew what he would say after a goal," said Alejandro Carrasco, general manager and president of Radio America and Mr. Diron's longtime friend. "He had his own unique way of saying it."

On air, Mr. Diron would often say, "Le pegó como los dioses," or "He hit it like the gods," when one of the team members scored.

As a commentator, he could be emotional.

"It was like he was playing. He had so much energy," said Jaime Moreno, captain of D.C. United and a friend of Mr. Diron's. "He really felt the game and had so much passion for the game. Nobody else in the league did what he did on the radio."

When he died this month, Mr. Diron's daughter Lorena White listened to a radio show dedicated to her father. Listeners called in to talk about how kind and warm Mr. Diron was and about the charisma that he brought to his shows.

"That was amazing that they got that through listening," White said. "And that's how he was. I never knew he could touch lives like that through the radio."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company