Longtime Operations Director Ron Curtis Retires
After 37 years of service to WWNO, Operations Director Ron Curtis has retired, on Friday February 22. Over the years, Ron has served as announcer, producer, host of both news and classical music, and since 1989, Operations Director. Ron has had a hand in nearly every aspect of the station’s operations, from its computer networks, to the daily schedule of programs and underwriting, to the selection of holiday programs (a favorite part of the job).
Virtually every part of WWNO’s broadcast day depends on the work of the Operations Director. Fortunately, for the last two months, Ron has been training his successor, Garrett Pittman (whose introduction will follow in an upcoming newsletter.)
Asked what his proudest accomplishment has been, Ron spoke with pride about how everyone pitched in and worked together to get the station back on the air after Katrina. It’s important to note Ron’s own major role in the process. Along with WWNO chief engineer Robert Carroll, the two received passes from multiple agencies to travel to the station’s transmitter on the West Bank and secure the equipment before the floodwaters on the eastbank had even begun to recede.
Ron commuted thousands of miles between Jackson MS and New Orleans, working tirelessly to get WWNO back on the air, first from donated studio space in Atlanta, and then to reopen the station’s studios at UNO. Reflecting on this life-changing experience, Ron said “You never know what you’re capable of until it comes down to the crunch and, if you’re healthy, surrounded by good people, and have a little good fortune, you can get the job done.”
Ron Curtis grew up in Gentilly. He served in the Air Force in the mid-1960s and resided in the Pacific Northwest for 14 years. Ron started his multi-faceted career in broadcasting in 1968, working as announcer, producer, reporter, news director and editorial writer at various commercial stations in Washington State.
In the summer of 1982, Ron bicycled from Olympia, Washington back to New Orleans, where soon after he joined WWNO as a part-time weekend announcer. He has said that in contrast to commercial radio he “immediately realized that there was a focus on the mission of the greater good—doing something for the country, for our society.”
Classical 104.9 Host, James Arey has known Ron since 1998 when James joined WWNO as a classical announcer. James reflected that “Ron was immensely helpful in guiding young announcers through the wilds of late-1990s public radio -- in later years, I would come to treasure his friendship both personally and professionally.”
In his retirement, Ron looks forward to traveling with his wife Suzanne Malochee, connecting with family on the West and East coasts, and visiting his daughter Jeni and granddaughter Georgia in Olympia, WA. Inspired by his late-brother, he is also excited to explore his interest in photography and cameras. His outlook for this next chapter in his life is to “try to do it well and make it meaningful.”
We thank Ron for his 37 years of service to our station and our community and wish him a very happy and fulfilling retirement. We encourage you to leave your own stories and notes of appreciation for Ron in the comments section below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.