Born in Cambridge MA, Ron Robin grew up in the North End of Boston where he lived in the same tenement as Boston dj Bill Marlowe. As a child instead of playing with his toy bowling pin set as most kids would have done, he took one of those pins and that became his play hand held microphone. His mother’s hand mirror held along the side of his face became his tv camera. He was destined to be in broadcasting. His early teen years found Ron listening to Boston dj greats Arnie Ginsburg and Joe Smith, where he typed out Joe’s top 10 every week and distributed carbon copies to his high school friends. Growing into his later teens he was obsessed with television teen dance shows and was actually on a few. He danced on Bob Clayton’s “Boston Ballroom”, Dave Maynard’s “Record Shop Hop” and a very memorable trip to Philadelphia to wait in line for hours to get to be part of “American Bandstand” participating in a spotlight dance with a very tall Southern girl he had met just 10 minutes before.
Yes he was destined to be in broadcasting. At Boston’s Christopher Columbus High School he was the dj at the weekly “Friday Night Hop”. After graduating in 1960 he went to Boston University where he, of course, became a dj on their student run WTBU. Two years later he realized he needed courses in radio and television and in 1962 transferred to Emerson College where he became production manager and, yes dj, at the college’s student run WECB. It was there he had the dubious distinction of interrupting programming to read a bulletin from Associated Press that President Kennedy had been shot. He also was assigned a dj shift for a folk music program (he knew nothing about folk music) at the college’s WERS-FM. That didn’t last too long. One day the student program director came running into the studio after hearing him refer to Joan Baez as Joan Bays. Learning from that and more Ron went on to become student station manager of WERS-FM. His time at Emerson opened up many doors. He was elected president of the local chapter of Alpha Epsilon Rho today referred to as a scholastic honor society recognizing academic achievement among students in the field of electronic media; Man of The Year Award at his social fraternity Alpha Pi Theta where among his fraternity brothers was actor Henry Winkler; and landing a full time announcing job 1964-1965 at WLYN-FM in Lynn MA while still in college. There he hosted a mellow music show called “Starlight Serenade”. This is where he came up with the “on air” name of Ron Paul Carey. Why three names? That’s another story … his father was a musician, a drummer, and he adjusted his family name of Polcari to his stage name of Paul Carey. Ron thought that name was cool but didn’t want to be called Paul so he added his real first name and became Ron Paul Carey. Well, it seemed that Ron was speaking a little too fast every time he used his new name on the air and a listener called to say he had a most unusual name … Rumple Carey. That became his nick name among friends at Emerson College right up to his graduation in 1965.
Upon graduation Ron was presented with the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association Harold E. Fellows Scholarship Award. A week later he accepted a job offer as a Rock n’ Roll dj at WKBR-AM in Manchester NH. He kept his college nickname and welcomed his teen audience to “The Rumple Show”. This is where his teenage time spent listening to Arnie Ginsburg and all of the horns and whistles Arnie was famous for paid off. “Rumple” decided his claim to on air fame would be a tambourine! His endless energy at the station spilled over to creating a teen dance club which he named “The Swing Thing” at The Bedford Grove Rollerway in neighboring Bedford, NH. There he presented live local bands and occasionally an out of town band which, on one night, featured a little blues band called The Hallucinations who didn’t go over very well for the pop music oriented crowd at the “Swing Thing”. A few years later that little blues band featuring Peter Wolf became the J. Geils Band. During his time in Manchester Ron hosted several rock concerts before moving back to Boston.
In 1967 he applied for a job at WMEX in Boston after Arnie Ginsburg left that station to go to WRKO. He got the job but owner Mac Richmond didn’t like the name Rumple because he thought it sounded to much like Rumble. The owner proudly proclaimed “Your name will be Rockin’ Robin” which was a dated name even for the late 60s but he was on Boston radio and Mr. Richmond could call him anything he wanted. After a couple of years Ron gradually introduced the “Ron” and faded the “Rockin’” away.
At Wimmex he worked under several Program Directors including the early mainstay of WMEX Mel Miller; sister station WPGC’s PD Warren Duffy; well known Boston dj Dick Summer; and a Manchester NH competing dj at WFEA who became a friend, John Garabedian. Along with his air work Ron was assigned the music director position at the station. Toward the end of 1968 SGC Records rep brought Ron a standout hard driving rock record by Todd Rundgren’s group Nazz called “Open My Eyes”. WMEX was about to add it to the station’s playlist when something happened in Ron’s apartment one day. He stacked a few 45s on the record player (remember those things?). “Open My Eyes” accidentally got flipped and the so called “B side” started to play. That’s when Ron heard, for the first time, “Hello It’s Me”. It was unlike any other song at that time. He tested it out on the air and phone requests for it were over the top. It became a number 1 hit at WMEX and nowhere else in the country because no one was playing that side. Several months later it was eventually played at competing station WRKO and in 1969 it eventually was being played on New York radio stations. Long after Nazz disbanded Todd Rundgren recorded his own slightly more uptempo version of the song in 1972. Thanks to the strong suggestions to management of friend and former WMEX dj Bud Ballou, that was also the year Ron accepted a dj position at Framingham/Boston’s F105 WVBF-FM. This was the first Boston FM station to aggressively compete with popular WMEX and WRKO AM stations for the pop/rock music audience … and won!
At VBF Ron did a variety of on air shifts and hosted several rock concerts from 1972-1978 including Duke and the Drivers outside of Boston City Hall and one on Friday May 4, 1973 when he worked with Aerosmith as “Dream On” was just starting to climb the charts. The concert was presented by the Beverly High School Student Council and held in their Field House. General Admission $2.50! During that time Ron also did several television shows on CBS 4 Boston including “Evening Magazine”,“For Kids Only” and fill in hosts for “Lottery Live” and Dave Maynard’s “Community Auditions” as well as others. In 1975 Ron created a weekly one hour show which embraced the exploding Disco scene. “Disco Notes” featured music mixes and interviews with local night club djs and several recording artists including Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, and Patti Labelle. Seeing that radio stations were getting promo copies of records but night club djs were not, Ron arranged to hold a record distributor and nightclub dj meeting to make that happen. One of Boston’s radio and night club djs John Luongo took it from there creating the Boston Record pool for night club djs. While “Disco Notes” was quite popular management felt is was out of character for the pop/rock station and in 1977 they canceled the show. Ron was working at several discos at the time including Boston Red Sox Tony Conigliaro’s “Tony C’s” in Nahant MA, the Chateau deVille in Framingham and Randolph MA and others in Boston and surrounding areas and felt this was a growing trend and crossover to radio was a natural. So he quit WVBF and started looking for a radio station interested in a disco format. No luck. He discovered that WBOS was brokering time so he bought time on that station and moved “Disco Notes” over. There he researched top selling records and created his own Top 10 which he printed and distributed to music retailers. Memories of DJ Joe Smith’s Top 10 which Ron distributed to friends when he was a high schooler. He also sold his own radio time and did his own commercials. Because of its success he was hired as Program Director and along with John Luongo and another top radio and night club dj Vinny Peruzzi created Boston’s first full time disco station “Disco 93” eventually reaching top 3 in the ratings. There were many memorable moments during that time … a giant disco concert presented by Don Law and Disco 93 at Boston Garden featuring live performances by top disco artists. Then there was the time that Gloria Gaynor will never forget. Ron Robin was promoting and hosting an event that was to crown Gloria Gaynor “Disco Queen” and featured her performance at a Boston hotel. For the first time in her career and for the first time ever in Ron’s, he had to walk onto the stage interrupting her performance to ask her to stop singing and to tell the audience to leave the hotel because of a fire in the building. But on the brighter side, in the late 70s Ron created, produced, and hosted a dance music television show called “Stage Door Disco” on a local Boston television station.
With competing station WXKS (Kiss 108) launching a massive advertising campaign for their disco format and WBOS’s management not wanting to compete, Ron left to accept a Top 40 dj job at WBZ- AM which eventually turned to a talk format and he used his comedic skills to transition to an evening talk jock at this 50,000 watt clear channel radio station which reached several states across the US and provinces in Canada. In 1980 after a brief stint at WHDH-AM Ron moved to Cape Cod where currently he and his husband Edmund Teo own and operate WGTX-FM 102.3 The Dunes (Classic Hits) serving most of Cape Cod out of Truro MA and The Mews Restaurant in Provincetown.
Published on September 2, 2020