Tuesday July 3, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Local radio legend Ron Stratton, known for his programming prowess and sense of humor, has died. He was 72.

A news reporter, news director and general manager at WBEC in the 1960s and ‘70s, Stratton died on Friday following a long illness, according to his family. He had been residing in Red Lion, Pa.

Stratton arrived at WBEC in 1965, one year before Willard "Huck" Hodgkins of Pittsfield was tapped as the station's operations manager.

Hodgkins recalled how Stratton was the complete package when it came to radio talent.

"He was an extremely smart guy with a great sense of humor," Hodgkins said. "He was a great news guy, great promotions guy, great advertising guy, and got away with things most of us couldn't."

"We really had a lot of fun," said Hodgkins, who left WBEC in 1984 to buy rival radio station WBRK on North Street.

One such "thing" Stratton got away with was how he signed on every newscast.

"He always opened with, ‘Good morning, good morning, Ron Stratton reporting,' " said Barbara Stratton, one of his three daughters, from her home in Baltimore.

Ron Stratton's 38-year broadcasting career began right out of high school in 1957. He worked for a couple of radio stations in his home state of Michigan before arriving in Pittsfield to work for WBEC from July 1965 to May 1979.

Stratton's 14 years at WBEC was his single longest run with any one broadcasting company, Barbara Stratton said. He would later work in Rochester, N.


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Y., Baltimore, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, among other places, before retiring in the mid-1990s.

Barbara Stratton, born in Pittsfield, was always amazed how her father made such a name for himself in radio broadcasting throughout the East Coast.

"Dad never went to college," she said. "He was self-taught and a really fast typer. He could produce copy like no one else."

One of Barbara Stratton's fondest memories of her father was when she was a seventh-grader at a private school in Stockbridge.

"He got Bruce Morrow to deejay a party at Berkshire Country Day School," she said, referring to the popular New York City radio personality better known as "Cousin Brucie." "It was very cool."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.