Elmer Dills, 82, a longtime restaurant and travel critic known for his popular radio and television reports, died Monday at Pasadena’s Huntington Memorial Hospital, according to KABC-TV Channel 7, where he dished out his reports on Southern California dining. The cause of death was not specified.
Dills, a longtime Pasadena resident, said he developed his knowledge of food and wine while working with the State Department. He entertained heads of state and other VIPs before leaving the diplomatic service after more than 20 years.
In the early 1970s, Dills wrote restaurant reviews for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Then, in 1975, he became the host of a KABC-AM (790) radio talk show on dining and travel before becoming a KABC-TV regular, reporting on area restaurants. He also did travel features for the TV station, retiring a few years ago.
As a radio host, Dills read commercials for restaurants on his show, which some critics considered a conflict of interest. He disagreed, saying in a 1984 interview, “I will not accept a commercial until I personally have evaluated the restaurant, and I actually reject about 70% to 80% of the restaurant commercials that come to the station.”
Dills left KABC radio in 1996, had a stint at KMPC-AM (710), then was the host of a show on KIEV-AM (870) -- now KRLA -- until 2006.
He moved the show to CRN Digital Talk Radio in 2007 before finally calling it quits in January.