Don Wade; The Stoned Ranger Series

Don (Wehde) Wade’s radio career included stops at a dozen or so cities including WIBG Philadelphia, CHAM Hamilton, ON., KOL Seattle, and KTAC Tacoma. Wade’s trek eventually took him to Chicago, where, in 1985, he won a spot at WLS. His wife, Roma, joined him as co-host.

Wade was not only a rock and roll DJ, but also the brains and voice behind a cast of unforgettable politically incorrect comedic characters such as: General Nuisance and his aide Private Parts (aka Roma); Sheriff CW Turnipseed; Peter “Kiss! Kiss!” Suckwell, the Mary Gay Cosmetics truck driver, and his best friend Phil McCrackin; Dr Buster Hymen, staff gynecologist at your cervix; Cabbie/Guru Maharishi Marachino; and the Stoned Ranger and Toronto.

This is the STONED RANGER radio series, created by Don Wade, Tom Rivers and Jim Hault. These vignettes originally aired in 1973.

















Don Wade died September 6, 2013 at the age of 72.

Author: Jason Remington

Creator, Admin, & Editor of QZVX, former broadcaster at KTOY FM/Tacoma, KVAC/Forks , KDFL/Sumner, KTTX & KWHI FM/Brenham (TX), KONP/Port Angeles, KBAM/Longview, KJUN/Puyallup, KRPM FM/Tacoma, KAMT/Tacoma, KASY/Auburn, KBRD FM/Tacoma, KTAC/Tacoma, KMTT FM/Tacoma, and KOOL FM/Phoenix. -- Airchecks

11 thoughts on “Don Wade; The Stoned Ranger Series

  1. I loved listening to Don and Roma during the eighties. Does anyone have any recordings of Don Wade and the Peter Suckwell the merry gay truck driver.

  2. I was in Florida in 73 and listened every day it was on. There were way many more I listened to than the above. Loved the one about the grand funk railroad and the one about trolling for gators, you ain’t going to catch a gator with bait that big.

    Loved the series.

  3. There were actually 65 episodes of The Stoned Ranger. Before he died, Tom Rivers gave me four 7″ reels that have all 65 episodes on them. Tom also told me that they received a ‘cease and desist’ notice from The Wrather Corporation (who owned The Lone Ranger), so it’s possible that only 16 episodes ever aired. That I don’t know.
    Rivers also created several other series during his career. When he was at KFRC, he created another 65 episode spoof on “Star Wars” called “Welcome To Omega Flats”. Tom was the Zeta Ranger, I was a character named Crusty and I did an Edgar Buchanan (“Petticoat Junction”) type voice and there was Meko, the robot, also voiced by Tom. A fan has created a website that features all of those episodes as well.
    While at CFTR Toronto, Tom created “The Unfriendly Giant”, which was a spoof of the Canadian children’s TV series “The Friendly Giant”.

    1. Doug,
      I listened to the Stoned Ranger every day on AM 1290 WIRL in Peoria, Illinois and thoroughly enjoyed them! Finding the episodes on this website has been great, and listening to them brought back wonderful memories. Question: have you ever uploaded to any archive site those episodes from the reels which Tom gave to you?
      David Gruber

    2. Doug, is there any chance you still have the reels of the Stoned Ranger or copies of them? My best friend, of now 65 years, and I listened to that program when we were in college together in the early 70’s. We both loved it. But Lauren has developed Alzheimer’s disease and I know he would love to listen to them again. If you have them would you be willing to copy the episodes for me? I can use 3.5″ floppy drives, USB drives, SD cards, zip files of MP3 or MP4 would also work. I can translate from cassette tapes and if I had to, I have a friend with a working reel to reel tape deck from which we could capture the files.

      I would be glad to pay copying, media and shipping fees if reasonable. Please reply as soon as you can. I await your reply.

      Sincerely yours,

      John D. Stewart
      Waterloo, IA 50702

      1. I have all 60+ episodes that I recorded from WIBG radio in 1972 on reel to reel tape. Mine have complete opens and closes and doesn’t begin in progress.

        1. DON WADE, the longtime WLS-A/CHICAGO morning host, died FRIDAY (9/6/2013) after a battle with a brain tumor. He was 72. (Wade had a stop at WNOE as shown below)

          WADE’s career, which peaked with his 1986-2012 run at WLS partnered with wife ROMA, took him to stations like WTID-A/NOEFOLK, WHAV-A/HAVERHILL, MA, WORL-A/BOSTON, WUPY/LYNN, MA, WDRC-A/HARTFORD, WNOE-A/NEW ORLEANS, WKBW-A/BUFFALO, CHAM-A/HAMILTON, KLIF-A/DALLAS, WIBG-A/PHILADELPHIA, KOL-A/SEATTLE, KTAC-A/TACOMA, and, finally, to CHICAGO, first at WUSN and then at WLS. He left WLS due to his illness last DECEMBER.

          ROMA posted on the WLS website, “Last FRIDAY morning, my hero, my best friend, my soulmate left this mortal coil behind and entered the realm of spirit while wrapped in my loving arms. God blessed us with almost an entire year since DON’s surgery to embrace life, love, family, and adventure, all while knowing that his time on this beautiful earth was drawing to a close. What a gift! What a joy to be entrusted with my magnificent man’s care for that precious time.

          “I love him more than life itself.

          “Thank you for all your messages of love and appreciation. You kept Don’s spirit alive in your hearts and we bless you for every thought. Your thoughts are prayers.

          “Just know that we had a lifetime of blessings together and one of the very best was sharing our thoughts,our family, our joys and sorrows with YOU, our radio family. You meant the world to us.

          “May God bless you and keep you safe.

          “With love and sorrow,

          “ROMA, HUNTER, HEATHER, and family.”

          His condition prompted the couple to step down from their popular morning talk radio show in December to focus on his health.

          They were among the longest-running husband-and-wife-radio teams in Chicago. Mr. Wade served as the curmudgeon with a heart to Roma’s softer side. The combination became a linchpin of WLS radio’s programming.

          Colleagues said Mr. Wade was a relentless researcher who would wake up in the middle of the night to get ready for his 5 a.m. show. The “lovable curmudgeon” became a Chicago institution by knowing the topics he covered inside and out, said former WLS General Manager Michael Damsky.

          “I think that Don was probably the most influential local, perspective-based host in Chicago,” Damsky said. “This city has a great history of beloved personalities, some of them far more well-known or higher-rated than Don. But when it came to information and perspective, Don really was the gold standard.”

          Damsky said people trusted Mr. Wade in a deeper way than they did other radio hosts.

          “When there were big issues on the line that were of broad-based interest, people turned to Don,” Damsky said. “No one else ever commanded that kind of respect.”

          As word spread Sunday of his passing, fans on social media networks remembered the broadcaster as a comforting presence with a sharp sense of humor.

          “He was like a friend,” one woman wrote on the WLS Facebook page. “He and Steve Scott helped me get through the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, with their calm and professional reporting.”

          Tracy Slutzkin started as the Wades’ producer in the 1990s and rose to become the WLS program director. She said Mr. Wade was a mentor and friend who was “truly an exceptional man all around.”

          “He wanted to make sure Chicagoans got the best, thought-provoking, entertaining information every day,” she said. “And he worked so hard at it.”

          (Robert Feder) —Just days short of one year after he suffered a seizure and underwent surgery for a malignant brain tumor, Wade died in Florida, where the couple spent their time since officially retiring from WLS last December.

          Over their 27-year run at WLS, the Wades’ consistently high ratings and proven track record with advertisers made the couple the longest running radio team in Chicago — and made millions of dollars for the station. While Don relished his reputation as a conservative curmudgeon on the air, he never lost the passion, wit and good humor that endeared him to hundreds of thousands of listeners across the political spectrum.

          “The WLS family and Chicago radio will forever be grateful for the legend that is Don Wade,” said Donna Baker, vice president and market manager of Cumulus Media in Chicago. “We send love and prayers to Roma, Hunter, and Heather and wish them the peace that surpasses understanding.” Baker said the station has received more than 10,000 emails from listeners conveying their thoughts to the Wades.

          After logging 15 radio jobs in nine states, Wade arrived in Chicago in 1982 as morning personality at country music WUSN FM 99.5. In 1985, he shifted to WLS, where Roma joined him as co-host the following year. When the station switched to news/talk in 1989, the Wades were the only on-air talents to survive the transition and promptly were promoted to mornings. Though married since 1979, they didn’t tell listeners they were husband and wife until 1998.

          In 2004, I interviewed Wade just after he’d signed a new four-year contract reportedly worth more than $1 million a year. In the course of our conversation, he reminisced about his first job in radio — a part-time gig at WTID AM in Newport News, Va., for which he was paid 50 cents an hour.

          “I arrived at this station that was literally falling down,” he recalled. “It was a wooden shack. The turntable was on the second floor. So if you slammed the front door when you walked in, the record would skip. I made 50 cents an hour, and I played religious tapes on Sunday morning, followed by a live gospel show in the studio — they had an actual studio setup — and I had to engineer that. Then we played some various other medical shows and what have you. And then I got to play some show tunes, which was real big.

          “One day, they actually gave me a raise to a dollar an hour, and I thought I was in heaven. That was incredible.

          “So from 50 cents an hour to here, the lesson I’ve learned is on a little plaque that Roma and I have had on our refrigerator door for so many years that we wanted our kids to learn from it. It’s very simple: ‘Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ That’s all there is to it.”

          John Gehron was the WLS program director who hired Mr. Wade in the 1980s.

          “He set such a wonderful example of how to do a radio show the right way,” said Gehron, who remained friends with Mr. Wade after leaving the station. “He had tremendous credibility because he worked so hard and he had his facts straight.”

          In Mr. Wade’s first years at WLS, Gehron said, Roma would often stop by the studio and help with the show.

          “You could tell when they were on the air together that there was some magic,” Gehron said.

          Former WLS GM TOM TRADUP, now SALEM VP/News-Talk Programming, told ALL ACCESS, “Like most people who love Talk Radio in CHICAGO, I feel like my best friend died on FRIDAY.

          “When I was named President/General Manager of WLS in 1989, I was charged with flipping the format to NewsTalk and, unfortunately, probably firing most of the ‘MUSICRADIO 89”’ hosts still clinging to the old format. Chicago legends like FRED WINSTON, JOHN “RECORDS” LANDECKER, and DON WADE among them.

          “But DON’s infectious good humor, intelligent grasp of the issues, and his uncanny ability to connect one-on-one with men and women throughout CHICAGOLAND convinced me he had to stay. He and ROMA (in those days they kept their marriage a secret) were the very first ‘hires’ I made at the new WLS TALKRADIO 890.

          “Over the years, DON’s popularity—and our ratings and revenue—soared as he and Roma woke up countless hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, and got them actively involved in his many stunts including DON’s “It’s Great to be Straight” counter to the Gay Pride parades, as well as over 8,000 people who packed DALEY PLAZA for DON’s “GACY’s Day Parade” demanding that serial child-killer JOHN WAYNE GACY be put to death rather than kept on Illinois taxpayers’ dole. Some days later, I received a handwritten note from GACY, who said the event made him ‘sad’ since listening to DON WADE on WLS on his prison radio was ‘the highlight of my day.’

          “Off-mike, DON was as charming and gracious a man as I have ever met. My heart and prayers go out to his lovely wife ROMA, their children and extended family, and to all of CHICAGO which has lost a sizzling, irreplaceable Talk Radio treasure in DON WADE.”

  4. Is this the same guy that did “Billy and the Kid”? Or was the show renamed due to the controversial nature of the title?

  5. Happy to listen to hear the Stoned Ranger again. I was a big fan. Orel Rowboats was another DW character, an aircraft carrier chaplain as I recall.

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