Ron Lundy, one of the iconic figures of New York radio, has died. He was 75 and had been in ill health recently, finally succumbing on Monday to a heart attack. Lundy had been living in Mississippi since his retirement in 1997.
With a very slight drawl - or perhaps major drawl to New York ears - and an infectiously affable personality, Lundy was one of the kings of radio when radio was an inescapable part of any New Yorker's media diet. "Hello luuuvvv," he'd greet listeners. "This is Ron Lundy from the greatest city in the world!" - the line famously incorporated into one of the most memorable scenes in the movie "Midnight Cowboy."
Lundy worked at WABC-AM from 1965 to 1982, part of a lineup of memorable DJs that also included Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison and Bruce Morrow. The Top 40 station's powerful 50,000-watt signal easily reached listeners a hundred miles in any direction (or many thousands of miles at night).
"He was one of those guys who you felt was your best friend when you heard him on the air," said Ingram, now living in Florida. "He was what you call on the air 'warm and friendly.' There was something in his voice that I couldn't figure out but it was just naturally him."
The music finally stopped at WABC on May 10, 1982, and the station switched to a talk format. A few years later, Lundy joined WCBS-FM/101.1, where he become an integral part of the popular oldies lineup.
Ted David - the New York radio and TV news anchor and longtime Lundy friend who broke news of his death Tuesday on the New York Radio Message Board - said "Ron was to music what Howard Stern is to this generation in talk. . . . If you were at the beach and went for a hot dog, you could continue listening to the station [and Lundy] because it would be on a radio on every beach blanket."
Radio now, he says, is so "bifurcated" with formats that there are no dominant personalities like Lundy, Ingram or Morrow.
"Ron hasn't been on the air since 1997 [but] he made such a big impression over those years that if you were to hear him again, it would be a reminder of those times on the beach or in high school when you waited around for your favorite song to come on," said Allan Sniffen, who runs the Radio Board. "I think every time one of these people passes away it like another piece of your childhood goes away too."Born in the South, Lundy became a disc jockey after serving in the Marines. Following radio gigs at several stations in Mississippi, Louisiana and finally St. Louis, he was hired at WABC in 1965. He left New York radio on Sept. 18, 1997, departing New York with his wife Shirley to his hometown of Bruce, Miss.