Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame
Class of 2007
The following remarks by Ron Lyons’ son, Sean — also known on the air as Tom Berlin* — were read by Carter B. Smith as part of Ron’s introduction during the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame’s Class of 2007 celebration:
First of all, I know my Dad would be totally thrilled to know that his colleagues and listeners thought so highly of him. Like many people in radio, Ron Lyons never realized how good he really was until after his career was over.
While going through radiation treatments almost a year ago, he would listen to old airchecks. Some of them included things he had done with Ron Reynolds, Tom Brown, Carter B. Smith and several others. After a couple of hours, he turned to his wife Lana and said, “Wow… I guess I was pretty good after all…”
My mother’s reply?
“Well, shit, Ron… we’ve been trying to tell you that for the last thirty years.”
My Dad loved radio. And I think he’d be the first one to tell you what a great time he had over his 40+ years, in spite of all the uncertainty of the business. He always wanted radio to mean something to the listener — to give them a laugh or to let them know he identified with them. He was a pro, but he always tried to be “real” on the air.
But it wasn’t just about being on the air for him. And even though he was a production whiz, I think the best moments for him came through the people he met, the life-long friends he made and the laughter they shared. My Dad loved to make people laugh … mostly with material that really can’t be repeated here.
Thank you to the voters, and a special thank you to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame and Museum. It takes passionate people to keep the memories and the spirit of radio alive.
I know Ron Lyons thanks you … and has a one-liner ready to go.
Upon hearing the news of Ron Lyons’ passing on August 3, 2007, his good friend and colleague Ron Reynolds wrote the following:
I grieve over Ron’s passing, but at the same time, I celebrate him for a life well lived. My only regret is he may not have known how really good he was, and how great he was at everything he did … from rock and roll (KEWB), to middle of the road (KNBR), to traffic and news (KCBS), plus some country western thrown in along the line.
He had no equals when it came to his production work. He just had a natural talent for building sound pictures and telling stories. One of his early projects was a series he called “Bedtime Stories” — mixing and weaving songs into a theme to make a point or tell a story. One of his last projects was an NPR documentary and a CD tribute to his musical idol, Mickey Newbury.
More important, he was my loyal friend and supporter through the good times and the bad times of the Bay Area since 1966. We fought in the trenches together before the bean counters won the war on creativity. I say this, because Ron would appreciate it. I will miss him.
Ron Lyons on KEWB (Monday, July 29, 1963):
Ron Lyons on KROY/Sacramento (January 15, 1965):
Ron Lyons and Ron Reynolds: The KNEW Sinatra Special (May 1970):
Ron Lyons and Ron Reynolds wrap up KNEW’s 24-hour salute to Old Blue Eyes. Courtesy of Ron Reynolds.
Ron Lyons on KNEW (December 1972):
Courtesy of Mike Schweizer.
Ron & Tom Foolery on KNBR: Singing Dogs (1983):
Ron Lyons writes (December 2005): This was one of those things that you never know will work until you actually get on the air. The wonderful thing about radio is that it could be spontaneous. There was a novelty record out years ago where a guy had spliced (back when you actually had to CUT the tape) a group of dog barks together to make the melody of “Jingle Bells.” So we decided to have listeners call in and have THEIR dogs bark along with the “Singing Dogs.” The other guy is Tom Brown and we did a trivia show called “Ron and Tom Foolery” on KNBR in San Francisco.
* – Ron Lyons was born Ronald Tomberlin.
Special thanks to Ron Lyons and the Lyons family for recordings, photographs, biographical information and special materials included in this presentation. All recordings courtesy of Ron Lyons unless otherwise noted.