Randy Davis is liv­ing his child­hood dream

Rome News-Tribune - - NEWS - By Kathrine Kirby Rome News-Tri­bune cor­re­spon­dent

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?”

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