Randy Davis is living his childhood dream
The voice of Randy Davis has long been coming through the speakers of Rome’s radios, but few people realize how he has managed to live his childhood dream here in the heart of Rome.
“When I was about 14 or 15 years old I would hang out in the lobby of what was then WLAQ, a popular local rock and roll station,” Davis said. “I would ride the bus to the end of the driveway here and piddle around till late in the afternoon when my mom would come by to pick me up.”
Davis said that his hanging out finally turned into the job he had been dreaming about.
“It was pretty good money for a kid,” Davis explained. “I loved everything about being at the radio station. I loved rock ’n’ roll music, like most other kids my age, and being in the studio was magical.”
Davis said that he, being unable to drive, had tried a few other jobs as a teen, peddling newspapers early in the morning for the Rome News-Tribune and Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a while, but he found it too much of a burden with time. He also remembers being a bag boy at the local A&P for a short time and not enjoying it very much.
“The radio was what I really loved. I started part time and worked my way up into full time later,” Davis explained.
Davis went on to work at WROM and did the first rock and roll FM show in Rome, called Randy’s Request Line — pulling a split shift to cover more of the station’s song play.
“I was the first real rock ’n’ roll disc jockey in the area that did mainstream, top 40 rock ’n’ roll rather than the more common college radio-style format,” Davis explained. “I had this great idea to combat the tons of song request I was getting. I would have girls volunteer to be Randy’s Request Line representatives and take calls on their home phone — then call me later and read the requests.”
To keep the parents from becoming angry about their phone constantly ringing for their daughters, he would require the girls who wanted to be representatives to put their parents on the phone to show they had permission to participate.
“I will never forget my dad telling me ‘Randy get a real job’ and me saying to him, ‘Dad one day I am going to make this a real job,’” Davis said. “I liked to starve doing it, but I sure did have a good time.”
Davis also shared that it was during his time doing the show that he first met his wife, Sandy.
“I was working as a emcee for a fashion show at the old Faye’s store in downtown Rome. I was a real young guy and was asked to this type of gig a lot,” Davis explained. “The fashion show featured girls from the local high schools, and I will never forget when this really cute girl from Model High walked out on stage. I thought ‘Holy smokes, look at her.’”
At the time, Sandy Rickman had no interest in him despite his dedicated requests.
“She told me no three times,” he said. “Finally, her grandmother talked her into going out with me and here we are now working on 50 years of marriage in January. Who would of thought?”
He finally began to hear the subliminal voice of his father and decided to go into radio sales to generate more income for himself and his family.
“I will never forget riding around with Ben Lucas knowing he was going to teach me how to sell,” Davis said. Randy Davis “He would walk into the room and people would just throw money at him — I just could not understand how he was doing it.”
“I was a dismal failure until I finally told myself I had to do it and set my mind to make it happen,” Davis said. “Then I started making a decent income.”
While he did spend part of his radio career in the Atlanta market, his heart was always in Rome.
“January of 1966, I enlisted in the Air Force — the draft was going hot and heavy now, and I did not want to go into the Army,” Davis explained. “I took the exams just to be sent home when they discovered that I am deaf in one ear. I came home to Rome and went back to work at WLAQ at 20 years old — running the board and playing country music.”
Davis said that his true love has always been rock ’n’ roll, so his transformation into Cousin RD — his radio pseudonym — was probably one of the most interesting times of his radio career.
“Tom Lloyd, who was originally from Athens, Georgia, was running the station at the time,” Davis said. “He believed that if you changed your name for the radio you were not to be trusted. Rather than change my name I just decided to go by Cousin RD to give myself a little character.”
They played all the old country while he went out and sold advertising. He did admit that there was one country song that he did love from the first time he heard it, ironically sung by Jerry Lee Lewis, “What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me).”
Davis said his other love has always been for local sports.
“I was not a good player of the games, but I was a great student of the how the games were played,” Davis laughed. “I have always liked football, loved baseball and local basketball.”
Davis said that because of his love of sports he spent a great deal of time announcing games for little league, college and high school sports in the Rome area.
“It didn’t make me rich, it certainly didn’t make me famous — but I love it and it makes me happy,” Davis said. “I am the only individual to own a holiday festival basketball trophy after being recognized for 47 years of broadcasting the Christmas tournament. Boy is it fun, but it is a lot of work.”
Because of his years of involvement in the sports community Davis was recognized by the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame as a member.
For Davis, what makes him the proudest is how the love of radio has been carried on in the lives of his daughter Elizabeth and his son Matt Davis. Davis said that he sees bits of his passion in both of his kids, who are both very different and very talented.
“My son handles the sports and FM now at WLAQ, and my daughter handles the AM station,” Davis explained. “My son has a love for sports broadcasting and my daughter has a love of just being in the radio environment. It is amazing to see your kids do well in something you love.”
Davis shared that his wife is also working as the bookkeeper making radio very much a hands-on, family business.
“It is not mundane — every day you wake up to some new adventure,” Davis laughed. “Some people walk into the business with a 40-hour-a-week expectation — those people almost always walk away.”
“I am 70 years old and everyone keeps asking ‘Randy when are you going to retire?’” Davis laughed. “The thing is, I don’t work! This is fun. Work is something you don’t enjoy. I am not a workaholic by any means, but — why quit when you are having fun?”