- Dell Schanze
Dell Buck Schanze (born in Ithaca, NY on September 27
1969) is a controversial Utah business entrepreneur, who relocated to Salt Lake City with his mother at age 12 when his parents divorced. According to the " Salt Lake Tribune", Schanze "has made a name for himself by pushing the envelope professionally and personally" cite news |first=Michael |last=Westley |authorlink= |coauthors= |title='Super Dell' slightly injured in ultralight aircraft crash. |url= |quote=Fighting high winds, Dell Schanze crashed the ultralight aircraft he was flying near Magana on Thursday morning. Firefighters driving to a training facility at about 8000 West and 4000 South saw Schanze -- known from his "crazy" television ads as "SUPERDELL" -- fall from the sky. "It looked like he was trying to control his descent, but the wind was throwing him around pretty good," said Capt. Doug Obert of the Salt Lake County Fire department. |publisher= Salt Lake Tribune|date= June 20, 2003|accessdate=2007-08-21 ] with highly opinionated radio and television advertising campaigns in Salt Lake City pushing his businesses as well as his personal viewpoints.
Dell Schanze was the founder of
Totally Awesome Computers, which at its peak operated nine stores along the Wasatch Frontin Utah. His moniker "SUPERDELL" (written as one word in capital letters) and his business became household names in Utah in the late 1990s. He is known for his zany, unrehearsed and often controversial commercial advertisements as well as for his multiple news appearances reporting his conflicts involving local residents and police.
He is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and has stated that he has a permit to carry a concealed firearm.
Dell Schanze founded Totally Awesome Computers (TAC) in 1996. TAC closed its doors in 2006 as failing finances, a series of news reports regarding Schanze's clashes with the law and two discrimination/harassment lawsuits brought by former employees combined to create a perfect storm for the off-beat pitchman.
Schanze also co-owned
Totally Awesome Guns and Range, an indoor shooting range; as well as a distributorship of powered paragliderproducts (Totally Awesome Flying Sports), which is now owned and operated by Bill Heaner.
Dell Schanze has made attention-grabbing and often critical remarks about competitors, local government officials, and other people in his ads. Some of the people and companies his ads commented upon include
Micron Technology, Gateway, Inc., Bill Gates, the Better Business Bureau, the mayor of Provo, Utah, the "Shiffer Indians" (a fictional Native American Indian tribe), homosexuals, and a Salt Lake Citydentist who threatened suit against Schanze alleging defamation[Laura Warner, [http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,590039188,00.html 'Super Dell' zaps Provo mayor in ads] , " Deseret News", January 28, 2004. Retrieved June 18, 2006.] . While the computer store was in business, Schanze posted his radio commercials on his web site in MP3 format. Though the MP3 files do not appear to be present in the archive of his Web site, some notable exceptions are audio files of a radio commercials in which Schanze [http://web.archive.org/web/20031017144042/www.totallyawesome.com/media/Totally+Awesome-BB1.MP3 criticizes the local Better Business Bureau] and [http://web.archive.org/web/20060423185314/www.slweekly.com/media/closetspot.mp3 calls homosexuals "faggots"] .
In his 2008 run for Governor of Utah on the Libertarian ticket, [http://real.ksl.com/video/slc/2/247/24772.mp3 Schanze recorded an auto-dial phone message] that his supporters used to reach 2,500 voters a day which called Utah's current governor, Jon Huntsman Jr. an "anti-Christ socialist" and states that his Democrat opponent Bob Springmeyer "doesn't care about the constitution." Schanze later recorded a "toned down" version of the ad. [ [http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=3907491] KSL News: Schanze's comments target Gov. Huntsman]
Schanze is noted for his hobby of
powered paragliding, which is a form of ultralight aviationwhere the pilot wears a small motor on his back, and runs into the air with lift from a paraglider wing. In the Salt Lake Cityarea, the sport is firmly associated with Schanze due to the local media's broadcast of multiple appearances in the news involving Schanze's paragliding activities.
On May 24, 2006, police in
Draper, Utahresponded to reports of a motorized paragliderflying over I-15at about the height of a two-story building. Police received reports that Schanze was the pilot and that he was flying low enough that witnesses feared he might crash. Utah Highway Patroltroopers said drivers were watching the paraglider rather than the road. Schanze entered a plea of "no contest" and received a $300 fine with one years probation. In a well-publicized news segment filmed outside the courthouse after his sentencing, one of Schanze's fans indicated displeasure with the ruling and paid the $300 fine herself on his behalf. He was filmed literally kissing her feet in gratitude.
In June 2003, Schanze executed an emergency landing of his powered paraglider in an open field in Magna. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that his canopy collapsed when he was about 75 feet above the ground, but he was able to save himself by deploying an emergency backup chute. The article characterized his flying skills with only ten months of experience at the time as "excellent" but questioned his judgment in deciding to fly alone in winds up to 32 mph at the time. Schanze testified at the time that conditions were considerably calmer when he took off, and grew worse while he was in the air. Television news cameras captured the image of Schanze being taken away on a stretcher. Schanze later appeared on the Bob Lonsberry Show, a morning radio program on AM 570, KNRS, Salt Lake City, and explained his side of the events.
In 2006 Schanze was charged with brandishing a firearm during an altercation with several people at a parking lot near a popular paragliding park in
Draper, Utah. Reports alleged that Schanze was traveling in a black Jaguar sports car, with one of his children, at high rates of speed, through a residential area. Several residents took offense to his speed, and are alleged to have jumped into a pickup truck and followed him. Their stories conflict, but Schanze claimed several men confronted him, telling him in crude terms, their opinion of his driving skills. One of the men allegedly picked up a large rock and threatened to break the windows of the car. Schanze, who was armed, with either one or two handguns, allegedly took one firearm out of his pocket. Some of the parties contended that Schanze pointed the gun at them, while Schanze contended that he merely took it out and held it at his side, so the antagonists could see it. Schanze was ultimately acquitted of the brandishing charge, but ran into trouble when the version of events he gave to police differed with the version he gave to TV reporters. This lead to charges of falsifying a police report, for which he was convicted [Stephen Hunt, [http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_3813500 'Super Dell' beats gun rap, but jury says he lied to cops] , " Salt Lake Tribune", May 12, 2006. Retrieved June 18, 2006.] (see Notable incidents, below).
*In October 2003, Schanze made Utah Native Americans angry, when in a televised ad he said the fictitious Shiffer Indian tribe died because they were intellectually challenged. [http://www.ksl.com/?sid=171329&nid=148] The director of the Utah Bureau of Indian Affairs sought an apology from Schanze; Schanze refused in an email sent to the entire company further disparaging Native Americans and stating that all Native Americans are adulterers due to the naming of the Bureau of Indian "Affairs".
*In November 2003, William "Carl" May, Schanze's former vice president and friend, sued Schanze, a
Mormon, and Totally Awesome Computersfor $1.2 million (estimated to be the total net-worth of the company), claiming to be held back from promotion for religious and ethnic discrimination. The suit was later settled out-of-court for undisclosed terms, but estimated to have been over $500,000 (with an additional $477,000 spent defending the claim).
*May subsequently sued Schanze again (also for $1.2 million) for defamation and breach of the agreements made in the prior settlement. May's second suit was later dropped.
*Schanse was also sued by another former employee, Sherri Young (former TAC company financial auditor/comptroller) for comments Schanze made about her in a "
Salt Lake City Weekly" article. Young's suit was later dismissed.
*On May 21, 2005 Schanze was charged with "threatening with or using a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel" (a class A
misdemeanor), reckless driving (a class B misdemeanor), and "false written statement" (a class B misdemeanor). The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred Schanze was reportedly speeding and driving recklessly through a Draper, Utahneighborhood. This precipitated a confrontation between Schanze and neighborhood residents during which Schanze allegedly brandished a Glockhandgun. Neighborhood residents were not charged with any crimes. Schanze was found guilty of making a false written statement about a cell phone call. The reckless driving charge was reduced to a speeding charge (to which Schanze entered a Guilty plea). Schanze was given a fine and probation on August 9, 2006 for the false statement charge and the speeding ticket.
*On May 24, 2006 Schanze was accused of "inappropriate" use of his powered paraglider. He pleaded "no contest" to public nuisance charges for flying his paraglider along I-15 during morning rush hour. The FAA issued Schanze a warning letter regarding the incident. [http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=277941 KSL News]
*On January 4, 2007, Dell Schanze was banned from editing the Wikipedia for a period of 24 hours for 10 or more Vandalism violations in a 24 hour period, including his statement that "Wikipedia is run by terrorists". [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dell_Schanze&action=history Wikipedia Edit History]
*On September 7, 2007 Schanze flew his powered paraglider across the bow within several feet of a tour boat on the
Great Salt Lake. His probation from his prior "inappropriate use" had expired just two weeks prior. [http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=1783601 KSL News]
*On March 15, 2008 Schanze filed his intent to run for the office of
mayorof Salt Lake Countyas a Republican [Jeremiah Stettler, [http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_8580964 "Super Dell" runs for county mayor] , Salt Lake Tribune, March 15, 2008. Retrievied March 18, 2008.] .
*On March 17, 2008 Schanze filed his intent to run for the office of
governorof the State of Utahas a Libertarian [Leigh Dethman, [http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695262406,00.html Super Dell now wants to be governor] , Deseret News, March 17, 2008. Retrieved March 18, 2008.] [http://qsaltlake.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=509&Itemid=35] .
chanze and the media
Schanze frequently claims that he is portrayed in a "sensationalistic and biased manner" by the news media, and points out what he refers to as "the evil lies of the news media"KSL.com, [http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=412322 Schanze Sentenced to Probation for Lying to Police] , 9 August 2006] .
To address Schanze's claims that the media has treated him unfairly, a reporter from the TV station
KSL-TVoffered to do a story on Schanze that attempts to portray him favorably. The story [Scott Haws, [http://www.ksl.com/?sid=260958&nid=148 A Look At Super Dell Schanze's Life] , KSL.com, May 12, 2006] , which aired May 12, 2006 and was filmed primarily in Schanze's primary residence, shows him enjoying his various hobbies, including his computers with notably oversized displays and his participation in powered paragliding, as well as a glimpse of his family life. Additionally, the entire unedited footage lasting nearly an hour was published on KSL's web site, along with the final broadcast news segment, which was edited to fit within an appropriate time constraint.
In the KSL.com online comment boards, Schanze registered and indicated his approval and pleasure with the way he was portrayed in that broadcast.
* (unsigned article), [http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?nid=39&sid=209147 "Super Dell" Schanze Defends Stance Against Weapons Charges] , "
KSL-TV", June 1, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2006.
*Doug Robinson, [http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600139534,00.html Schanze's rap sheet is awesome, too] , "
Deseret News", June 7, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2006.
*Shane Johnson, [http://www.slweekly.com/editorial/2005/feature_2005-08-04.cfm Dell on Earth] , "
Salt Lake City Weekly", August 4, 2006. Retrieved June 18, 2006.
*John Christensen [http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=412322 Schanze Sentenced to Probation for Lying to Police] , "
KSL News", Aug 9, 2006.
* [http://www.joelevi.com/blog/index.php/2006/05/09/totally-awesome-computers-out-of-business/ Perspective from a former employee]
* [http://www.totallyawesome.com/ (Former) Totally Awesome Web Portal]
* [http://dellschanze.blogspot.com/ Dell Schanze's home page] Schanze's Blog
* [http://superdell.blogspot.com Biographical Blog] Time-line based biography (not written by Schanze)
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