Ron Landry Tribute
|Ron Landry worked at WJMA so long ago that few in the WJMA listening area today remember him
and even fewer know the history of his broadcast career after he left Orange. This page is an attempt to remedy that.
There are a number of blanks and vague portions of this history.
If you can help fill in any of those areas, please contact Ross Hunter.
The DeVivi Restaurant was torn down in October of 2008 to make way for a Best Western motel. There are pictures in the WJMA "Places" photo gallery. Use the link on the left side of this page.
photo contributed by Woody Purcell
Ron Landry was born on October 24, 1934 in Monroe, Louisiana, but grew up in Washington, DC. He attended the University of Maryland and Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia where he received a BA degree in English Literature.
In November 1953 at the age of 18 he got his first radio job at WJMA AM in Orange, Virginia. His wife Margo remembers, "He did everything there including sweeping up. He said he loved being there and worked sometimes 12 hours per day experimenting with his voices, stories and jokes. That's where he created his style and many of his characters." Landry drew inspiration from Bob & Ray and Jean Shepherd. While honing his skills in Orange, Landry impressed and encouraged Red Shipley, a young high schooler also working his first radio job at WJMA. In 1956 he left WJMA for a job in a larger market at WBTM in Danville, Virginia. Chuck Brown who worked with Ron at WJMA wrote "...what a talent!" when remembering Ron.
Here are two commercials from very early in Ron's career. They are from late 1953 or early 1954 when Ron started at WJMA. These spots were saved by Chuck Brown who also appers in them. Chuck was WJMA's Chief Engineer and an announcer.
The Webb's Super Market spot was inspired by a Stan Freberg spoof of Dragnet. Station copy writer Ann Butler appears in the Glady's Beauty Shop spot. Both commercials are long by today's standards. These commercials were recorded on the Magnecorder tape recorder seen at the left side of the picture.
After a short stay at WBTM, Ron moved to WSLS in Roanoke, Virginia. Mel Linkous, who who worked as a staff announcer on both WSLS radio and TV remembered Ron's brief stay in the Star City, "Ron did the morning show, called Sunny Side of 7 which ran a variety of music --- as did most stations then -- and had news at 7:45am, followed by the obituary of the air. I remember Ron as being very talented and quite entertaining -- he did a lot of funny stuff to attract new listeners."
In 1958 he was drafted into the US Army. During a two-year stint in the military Landry worked at Armed Forces Radio in New York where he met and married Margo. In a 1966 article in TV Radio Mirror magazine Ron described their meeting. "Margo was an airline hostess. She'd just gotten off work, and I was in the Army. Since we were the only two at the party wearing uniforms, we got married." After Armed Forces Radio he landed a job at WDRC AM in Hartford, Connecticut. There's more information and pictures on Dan Broder's information packed WDRC web site. Page with information about Ron are here, and here, and here.
Thanks to Rick Kelly of Northeast Airchecks, here's a half-hour aircheck of Ron Landry on WDRC Hartford CT in 1965. It’s fascinating to hear what morning radio sounded like all those years ago. This aircheck is quite typical of the time, with Landry’s show featuring character bits, drop-ins and corny jokes. Landry was a true pro, whose career was a steady progression of moves to larger markets. In the aircheck you'll also hear a lot of WDRC’s production that featured a contest to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium in New York. This aircheck is provided by the Northeast Airchecks web site...a great site for old airchecks from many voices you will remember.
From Hartford Ron moved to powerhouse WBZ in Boston, Massachusetts, in the Spring of 1966. During his three years at WBZ he worked a number of afternoon drive and mid-day shifts. August, 1966 -- 3:30-6:30 pm; July, 1968 -- 9:30 am -12:30 noon; June, 1969 -- 2:05 pm - 6 pm; September 1969 -- 3:05-5 pm.
In late1969 he moved west to Los Angeles where he worked at two powerhouse stations: KGBS (1969-1974) and KFI (1974-1976). An old print ad for Ron on KGBS said he went to the University of Virginia and Roanoke Liberal Arts College. We think that is incorrect and that he went to the University of Maryland and Roanoke College. It was at KGBS that Ron met Bob Hudson, formed the comedy team of Hudson & Landry and recorded a number of singles including the 1971 Grammy nominated Ajax Liquor Store. It charted in June of 1971. The Grammy winner for comedy in 1971 was Flip Wilson's The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.
The success of those Hudson & Landry singles led to television appearances and a total of five comedy albums. After the Hudson & Landry team broke up, Landry later worked as writer and and director on a number of TV shows between 1977 and 1986 including Flo, Benson, Gimmie a Break, The Redd Foxx Show, Szysznyk, Scarecrow and Mrs King. He released his last comedy album with comedian Tom Beiner in 1989.
The Internet Movie Database has a list of TV writing and directing credits.
Ron Landry died of cancer September 16, 2002 at age 67.
Contributors to this page include Margo Landry, Woody Purcell, Mark Johnson, Ed Brouder, Larry Bly, Mel Linkous, Red Shipley and Bill Earl.