Ron Dudak


It is with a heavy heart that WMNR Fine Arts Radio shares news of the passing of Ron Dudak, longtime broadcaster and friend of WMNR.  Ron passed away in January 2015 at the age of 59.   Though he had curtailed his on-air hours of late, Ron supported the station tirelessly in so many ways and formatted playlists for us up until a week before his untimely death.

A pioneering broadcaster, Ron began airing Classical Collage on Sunday nights in 1976, six years before WMNR became a Fine Arts station.  His broadcast was the first regular program of classical music on WMNR.  He was known for featuring unusual and rarely heard works which he enhanced with his smooth, inimitable style and remarkable breadth and depth of knowledge.  So many WMNR staff and listeners have wonderful memories of Ron Dudak.  

Remembrances of Ronald Dudak, 1955 - 2015

Naomi & I used to go to Tanglewood much more frequently than we do now. Several times we ran into Ron there with Bob. What struck me was that among the casual atmosphere & sometimes heat, they both always had a white shirt & tie on. There were not part of the fancy dressed crowd, just seemed to believe the music deserved respect.

Another thing was that when I sent him my monthly programs he unfailing asked about Naomi. A kind & thoughtful gesture he always did.”

Dave Aldrich

"Right  this  minute, I  am  listening to  my local NPR  station (in Ohio) playing   Handel's "Waterworks"  and  thinking  of  Reginald Van Rothschild III” (his old radio name).

  Thanks, Ron

  P.S. - One  summer  day  he  drove  me  up  to  Tanglewood  for  a  BSO concert.”

(Rev.) Bill Terry

“Condolences to the entire WMNR family and thank you for communicating the information. His service and dedication is model for all.”

Douglas Taylor MD

“If I remember correctly, it was schoolmate John Botsko who introduced me to Ron who was a fledgling broadcaster-to-be at that point (he might have been working at WNAB at that point). I believe it was at Botsko's urging that Ron came up to the station.

Besides becoming a great friend, Ron shared his love of the classics with me even before taking on the “Reggie” persona. When I’d visit him at his parent’s house he’d play a favorite piece and explain its background to me while “conducting” his speakers. We also shared common interests with hi-fi and music and often trolled the upper-end audio showrooms and music stores when neither of us were on the air. As Jim said, I remember most often that after weekly staff meetings trekking over to Subway to grab something to eat and just shoot the breeze. Even at more recent station functions it would be Mark Morton, Ron and I as the lone stragglers on the way out, still shooting the bull with each other.

Even in later years, I’d stop by when Ron was on the air and we'd share war stories of our “early days” in radio, not only our days at WMNR but at the other stations we both had the pleasure (or misfortune) to have worked at. It’s difficult for me to remember Ron even getting upset about anything. I’ll always cherish the friendship I had with Ron.

Bill DeFelice

I am so terribly sorry to hear this. He used to control op for my husband Elliot (radio name Ken Mitchel) on his big band show. He was a sweet person and sadly, will be missed.

Doris David (who had a program on WMNR called the Imagination Shop)

I remember how fond Ron was of Tanglewood. He was emblematic among the thousands/millions of us who have and do adore the musical and natural beauty that emanates from that place. If I recall correctly, for many seasons Ron was in attendance for every opening weekend in Lenox. I saw him there a couple of times with a friend who had been there with Ron for a significant number of those opening concerts. He had an amazing, if not photographic memory for music and other things as well. I am grateful for the obvious joy that music filled Ron's heart with and for the countless hours of listening enjoyment that he gave listeners of WMNR during his decades of service to our station. He was a true classic and will be missed.

Parker Prout

I was shocked and deeply saddened to read this message. If any one person exemplified the best of WMNR, he was it. I'll really miss him. He was so devoted to the station and the music. His knowledge of all kinds of music went so far beyond encyclopedic; he and I were 'pitch partners on many a Friday night during Delphine Marcus' shows. Between laughing myself silly at their banter and learning tons about the music from both of them, we sometimes raised amazing amounts of money from her many well-heeled listeners. I remember one night in particular when what sounded like a quite elderly new listener called and made a large pledge, $2000 maybe on honor of her cat. We were a bit skeptical but wrote it up. Then shortly after we announced it on the air we got another call from a couple in Westport, longtime fans of Delphine's, who had already called in with their renewal, but upped the ante considerately in the name of their dog. Ron said something about the last pledge having the edge to the canine contingent. To both our surprise (and Delphine's) the cat lady called back and increased her pledge by another big amount, I think, No sooner had we announced that than the dog couple called back and the 'pledge war' was on. By the end of the night, the total had reached 4 digits. The three of us were convinced that this whole thing was some kind of leg-pull. But a little while later I got an elated call from saying that both the cat lady and dog couple had come through.

That's the memory of Ron that comes first to mind; there are many more of which I can only recall fragments at the moment but as I can flesh out more, I'll write them up and send them along.

Ron was an incredible asset to the station, a passionate and compassionate man, a genuine and good guy. I will never stop missing him...”

Anne Cushman Schwaikert

“I got to know Ron through conversations we had during membership drive times, as well as a regular email correspondence. Ron was highly intelligent and I admired his extensive knowledge of music and conductors. When Ron was pitching for the membership drives, I enjoyed watching him "conduct" the orchestral piece that was playing on the air while he sat in Studio A. Ron and I shared similar political views, and we were both Yankee fans, so we always had a lot to discuss. I sensed that Ron was well-acquainted with loneliness, and that he found solace in listening to music, going to Tanglewood each summer to hear his beloved Boston Symphony Orchestra, and of course, in broadcasting. He had an infectious laugh, and was always very kind. I don't think Ron would know how to be condescending. Ron took the time to express appreciation for my work at WMNR, which meant a lot to me considering the person he was. I wish we had become closer friends, and I will miss him.”

Will Duchon

“I remember two things about Ron:

In the mid-1980's he was at the station going over some paperwork and listening to the music that another broadcaster was playing. It was the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. At one point he looks up and says "No one takes a repeat here!" He was listening to the music and so familiar with the work that when the conductor repeated a section which was indicated in the score but few conductors followed he was aware of it!

In 1987 PBS broadcast a documentary on Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa which was filmed mostly at their summer home at Tanglewood. There was a rehearsal with some audience present for a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and the camera that was focused on Seiji Ozawa picks out an audience member who is a visibly moved by the music and the camera shows a closeup of Ron Dudak.”

Kurt Anderson

Where Have All the Summers Gone?

by Ron Dudak

It comes with more than just a twinge of incredulity to realize that this will be my forty second summer attending concerts at Tanglewood. It all started when my 7th grade teacher took me to my first concert early in 1969 (the Boston Symphony Orchestra at what was then Philharmonic Hall in New York), and then to two BSO concerts at Tanglewood the following summer (and as he tells the story, he hasn’t been able to get rid of me since!).

We usually attend about a dozen concerts each summer, the choice of which is determined by the usual consideration of the artists and programs offered. Why so many? Basically it’s because so many of the offerings are simply too tempting to pass up; so it long ago became what we do on our summer vacation. We may attend other events in the area, but they are usually planned around a Tanglewood concert. I was simply elated on that day over 20 years ago when it was announced that WMNR would be broadcasting live concerts from Tanglewood; but still, there’s nothing quite like the “live” experience, which is enhanced manifold when the beauty of the area is factored in. We usually leave early enough to take the “scenic route” through Connecticut and into Massachusetts, a perfect prelude to Tanglewood itself.

Often, in conversations with fellow concert-goers, we are asked where we come from; and when we tell them that we’re from southern Connecticut, the inevitable next question is, “Where do you stay?” It is with sincerest apologies to the Berkshire area Chambers of Commerce that we reply that we don’t stay anywhere, we just come right home…it’s actually a lot closer than one would think.

How lucky we are to have a world-class music festival of such magnitude right in our own backyard!

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