Thanks a Heap for Petaluma’s Radio Legacy

We were reminded what a remarkable legacy community radio in Petaluma has last week, when the  Petaluma Radio Players‘ Ralph Scott forwarded us the November 28, 2001 resolution that Lynn Woolsey presented to the House of Representatives in honor of the longtime Voice of Petaluma, KTOB radio’s Ron Walters.
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Walters is retired now, and last we heard he had recovered well from heart surgery last winter. Word has it he may make an appearance in an upcoming PRP production, and we’re hoping to corral him for an interview as well. KPCA will definitely need the wisdom of many of those who worked the Petaluma airwaves before us to succeed.
Ron Walters inspires us, and he also reminds us of the small-town folksiness that we still love about our wonderful little chicken-and-egg river town of 60,000.  Stewardship of the airwaves is a responsibility we take very seriously.
You can read more about Ron in this 2007 Argus-Courier piece by Don Bennett.
Read the full text of Representative Woolsey’s resolution below.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in order to honor a man in the City of Petaluma, where I proudly reside, who embodies the spirit and best qualities of that town. He is a man who attracts people through his gift of music and humor, and has used his special voice to make Petaluma a better place to live. Petalumans would know that I’m talking about Ron Walters.
Ron Walters’ was born in Ute, Iowa on Thanksgiving Day in 1932 and from the beginning people have been thankful for his giving nature. Growing up in the depression, Ron migrated to California in 1936 with his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles in car hauling a homemade house trailer filled with all their worldly possessions. After graduating from high school in Healdsburg he attended several colleges where he excelled in sports, music and drama. Ron graduated from Gonzaga University in Washington state where he starred in varsity basketball and also set records as the sole representative of the University’s unofficial track team.
After graduation, Ron returned to California where he held several jobs and met and married Judy Paige and soon was the father of three lovely daughters, Leigh, Juli and Erin. Then in October 1963 Ron, who was looking for a way to apply his love of music, walked into the KTOB radio station in Petaluma and asked for a job, which he thought he didn’t get. But the next day, the station owner called to ask, “How come you’re not at work?” Ron started work the same day.
At KTOB, Ron quickly became the “Voice of Petaluma,” with a regular morning program. He quickly put his humor and homespun sensibilities to use. He used his microphone to raise money for efforts including Pop Warner Football, the Petaluma Boys Club (which was in dire financial straits), medical costs for an injured high school football player and many, many other worthy causes. He was a staunch supporter of Petaluma beautification projects and played an important role in Petaluma’s historic preservation efforts which has preserved much of the city’s Victorian architectural heritage, including his own home.
Ron not only played music on the radio, he also taught music at Sonoma State University and was a performer. He starred in local productions of Broadway musicals including acting and singing the role of the Professor Harold Hill in the “Music Man” three times, a very appropriate role for an Iowa boy who lived in a town nicknamed “River City.” Ron also performed vocal jazz with the Harmoneers and Harmonettes and sang with various local bands including those of Ernie Walker, Peter Welker, Walt Oster and Bill Sax. Ron was a featured performer at Carnegie Hall last year with the jazz group, Take Note, and will sing there again next year.
Ron Walters’ voice hasn’t disappeared into the airwaves. The lessons he taught about civic involvement, philanthropy, and support for youth and the arts strongly reverberates in Petaluma and will do so for a long time to come.
Ron Walters always signed off his radio programs saying, “This is Ron Walters saying thanks a heap and don’t forget what I told you yesterday.”
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to Ron on behalf of all the people his life has touched, “Thanks a heap, and no, we won’t forget.”