Photo provided
Riley Dugan, 16, Carmel, says her comedian father, Dave Dugan, inspired her to join Carmel High School’s WHJE student-run radio station, taught her to be more confident and instilled in her his passion for music. He’s proud that she recently earned a statewide award, from the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters, for a script and production she created for an Indiana High School Athletic Association public service announcement.
Photo provided Riley Dugan, 16, Carmel, says her comedian father, Dave Dugan, inspired her to join Carmel High School’s WHJE student-run radio station, taught her to be more confident and instilled in her his passion for music. He’s proud that she recently earned a statewide award, from the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters, for a script and production she created for an Indiana High School Athletic Association public service announcement.
Riley Dugan found a passion for radio her freshman year of high school because she really liked music.
She was also inspired by her dad.
Yes, if her last name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s the daughter of comedian Dave Dugan, an Indianapolis-based comedian who is famous nationwide and around the world and has appeared on Comedy Central, HBO, and VH-1.
Her dad, who also loves music, worked humor into his spot as a radio personality on Carmel High School’s WHJE student-run radio station.
Now, Riley Dugan is following in her dad’s footsteps and, too, loves being on the air at WHJE.
“I’ll be honest. In freshman year of radio, I had some doubts if I was going to stick with it or not because I was absolutely terrified talking on air,” Riley Dugan, 16, a CHS sophomore, said. “My dad definitely motivated me to stick with it, and I’m so glad I continued with it because it’s so fun and has helped me in many ways.”
Riley Dugan recently earned a statewide award, from the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters, for a script and production she created for an Indiana High School Athletic Association public service announcement. Dave Dugan posted the announcement on his Facebook page.
Dave Dugan and his wife, Heidi, Riley’s mom, are proud parents.
“She's gotten an earlier start at WHJE than I did and as a sophomore already hosts a ‘Discover’ music show, has done a slew of interviews, produced and voiced an audio book and is a whiz at editing,” Dave Dugan said. Riley Dugan said everyone in CHS radio was assigned to write a PSA about IHSAA, “about sportsmanship for people both on the court and off the court.”
The assignment didn’t come easy for her.
“I know nothing about sports, and I cower in fear if something is even tossed in my direction. So I had no idea how I was going to approach this. I just did some research and thought about my experience in middle-school gym, a terrifying time to revisit but it was for the best,” she said. “When I wrapped up that assignment, I thought, ‘uhhh, good enough’ and I turned it in.”
Then, a few weeks later, she received a text at the end of first block from her friend saying something like, “Mr. James (radio teacher) wants to talk to you.” Panic filled inside of her. “Did I do something wrong? Oh, am I in trouble? Even though I did nothing wrong, my teenage brain came up with all the possibilities that I am doomed.” But to her surprise, Riley Dugan was told that her submitted script was nominated for the competition and went on to place second in the copywriting section. (Fellow CHS WHJE sophomore Nick Carlson placed third.)
“This is pretty cool, and all but I have to say I am insanely proud of everyone in WHJE that worked hard for this competition for all of the categories.” All of their hard work earned WHJE the Indiana Student Radio Station of the Year.
“Radio students are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met, and I’m so glad to say I’m a part of WHJE,” she said.
Riley Dugan calls herself “a painfully shy person.”
She said, “So the main purpose of radio being talking has definitely made me break out of my shell. Also, it has been a great way to express myself creatively. There’s many opportunities in radio to come up with our own ideas and make something from it.” She especially finds the editing part of projects a lot of fun.
Riley Dugan’s live show is called “Discover Weekly” with her friend Karl Templeton. “The idea of the show is expanding the more we do it, but the main idea is that we invite on peers from our school and get to know more about them on air along with playing some of their favorite music,” she said. “We also like to implement physical formats, such as vinyl records and CDs when we can because it’s fun. We’ve had a few friends on so far this last school year, and it was an absolute blast.”
She looks forward to going back to school in August. “I’m super excited to get back working on ‘Discover Weekly’ with Karl and see what other adventures it takes us on.”
Now, back to Riley Dugan and Dave Dugan’s awesome relationship.
“My dad and I constantly bond over our love of music,” she said. “You could probably call it an obsession, but I’d like to say it’s a passion. My dad has introduced me to many great bands and artists ever since I was a wee kid, and I’m very thankful he did because he has great music taste. He’d always have a playlist made for family trips and have his music playing by the pool since the day I was born. The man loves music, and so do I. To this day, we are constantly sharing music we discover, and it’s a blast.”
She finds it really fascinating how much music knowledge her dad has in his head. “For all those years being on the radio, he has gained so much information, it’s insane,” she said. “You’ll play three seconds of a song and he’ll know it immediately. We’ve gone through my dad’s record and CD collection many times and no matter what it is he can say something for each one of them.”
Being involved in her student-run radio station, she’s learned from her dad to be more confident with her public speaking. “If I’m ever struggling on a part for a project, he will help coach me and work out the idea,” she said. “It’s nice to have someone there to bounce ideas off of and a person that has lots of experience with it, too.”
Riley Dugan said her dad has taught her to be respectful to others and not to take life too seriously. “He never talks bad about people and always looks at the positive side of things. Also, he always wants to have fun everyday and he almost never wants the ‘party’ to end when the day is over.”
From her dad, she’s learned that “you only got one life; might as well make the most of it.”
Lastly, the earliest thing she remembers about her dad’s career was in elementary school when people would ask, “Is your dad Dave Dugan?” She said, “And I’d be confused on how they might know who my dad is. I guess at the time you could say I didn’t know the whole concept of my dad being a comedian.”
Riley Dugan said, “I just thought of him as my dad. In ways, I still feel like this.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.