Donielle Flynn

Weekdays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Tom Petty - his final show at Pine Knob. The crowd gave him a standing ovation before he ever played a note. Tom was so touched, that he reached up and held his hand to his heart in gratitude. Ken Settle captured that moment.

Tom Petty is my favorite artist.  He has been my favorite for as long as I can remember.  There was always something about the energy that he brought to his music that was calming yet inspiring.  I was heartbroken when I heard the news about Tom Petty’s passing.  When there are artists that we truly love, their passing is like losing a friend or even a family member.  I never met Tom.  We didn’t hang out, but his music SPOKE TO ME.  

What I Did Was Against The Rules

We give away prizes often on the radio.  I try my best to be fair with that responsibility.  After having given away countless tickets to listeners throughout my career honestly, one time… I did rig a contest for front-row Tom Petty tickets. Phew. Please wait before passing judgment.

I had an intern named Sara. Sara was the sweetest, smartest intern I could have possibly had. Sara and her dad were very close. Tom Petty was their favorite too.  After Sara’s internship, we stayed in touch.  I found out that her dad had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This type of cancer is particularly brutal and can move very fast.

Soon after, I found out that I had 5-4-3-2-1 tickets to give away for Tom Petty.  All tickets were given away properly except one pair.  I had Sara’s dad on hold on one of the request lines and when it came to the correct caller, I picked his line up and he “won” the front-row tickets.  Sara never asked me for any tickets… they were not the type to do that.  It was all my idea.


I knew it technically wasn’t right, but the chance to give Sara and her dad a memory together of going to see Tom Petty in the front row? I did it.  Sara’s dad passed away a couple of months later.  Please know that I take my job seriously and do not make a practice of abusing my privileges.  Having said that, I do not regret my choice.  I hope you can understand why.  I think Tom would have done the same.

Carrying those memories with me made me love Tom Petty’s music even more.  There are lots of amazingly talented artists that I love, but Tom Petty is in a different class for me.  The emotional connection that I make to his songs is on a different level.  When Tom sang, I felt like he was talking to me.

Tom Petty Fought For What He Thought Was Right

Tom Petty fought his share of battles for what he thought was right for his fans and his music.  Back when Tom was releasing Damn the Torpedos, he went to battle with MCA to keep them from upping the price of his album from $8.99 to $9.99. Tom said of the dispute, “Sometimes there’s a communications breakdown and, when that happens, you just have to stand up for yourself.”

“Running Down a Dream” pumps me up from the opening riff.  “Breakdown” makes me feel like it’s OK to break down.  “You Don’t Know How It Feels” makes me want to roll another join… JK (kinda).  The song is about so much more than that one line.  To me, there is a Tom Petty song for every mood and state of mind.  I miss his presence and I cherish his music.  As I’ve said on air many times, “Any day with Tom Petty’s music is a good day.”  That’s why I love Tom Petty.

Tom Petty: His 50 Best Songs, Ranked

Donielle Fynn is a Michigan native with two kids, two dogs, two cats, a love of yoga, and all things classic rock.

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