Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Long Live Ludlow Porch

I first heard of Ludlow Porch through the writings of Lewis Grizzard.Unlike many other characters, Ludlow turned out to be actually real, and actually stepbrother to Lewis Grizzard. He was born Bobby C. Hanson in Atlanta back in 1934. Like Grizzard he was also an author. He wrote Fat White Guys Cookbook, There's Nothing Neat About Seeing Your Feet and Honest, officer, the midget was on fire when I got here. However, unlike Grizzard he is not known for writing, he's known as a broadcaster.

Ludlow Porch was civil. He was no fire brand conservative southerner. His shows were feel-good, family-safe and  funny. I know that in media being quotable and polemic will get a lot of attention. But Ludlow built his fan base the old-fashioned way, slowly with honey not vinegar. He has more in common with Paul Harvey than Rush Limbaugh. In a 2005 interview he said:
"We don't do any of the angry white-guy stuff like you hear on other stations, No abortion, no politics, no gun control. We're just trying to prove that the good old art of two-way conversation is still alive and well on the radio." 
Ludlow came to radio late in life. He was 37 when he first found himself speaking with a Sports Illustrated writer in 1971. Grizzard at written a few ad hoc pieces for the mag and had recommended Ludlow as a trivia genius. Ludlow, who had been working as a insurance salesman at the time, lived up to his billing. the result was an article about his genius for random and useless trivia.

The article was published in 1972, and as a result, 750 WSB-AM invited him down to the station. In his own words he came for a week, then never left. It wasn't entirely accurate. Ludlow did guest on WSB-AM first, but it was 680 WRNG-AM who hired him. WRNG was the first all-news station in Atlanta. On both stations he rattled on about random trivia and announced fake news. He denied the existence of the state of Montana consistently. He stayed at WRNG-AM into the eighties and became station manager in 1980. In 1982 the station dropped their live programming to broadcast a feed from CNN Headline News.

Ludlow crossed the street to WSB-AM where he was a regular for over a decade. In 1993 he left and started Funseekers, his own radio network. It peaked at about 40 stations in eight states mostly in the Southeast. His show ran from 9:00 AM  to 12:00 noon. It began as a partnership with WSB-AM, but he bought out their share 1994 and went solo. In 1995 he offered to wash station managers cars if they'd syndicate his program. He kept at it and was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.  he died just last February at the age of 76.