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Chuck Ruby: Respect the music, respect the audience and always wear sandals
Early voice of WKSU dies

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Chuck Ruby was an eclectic character in the early eclectic days of WKSU. He also was touched very directly by May 4. His funeral is today in Wisconsin ...
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I was just wandering about the internet and came across this page. I was a roomate of Chuck's back in the 70's. Several of us rented a house in Stow on Fishcreek. Chuck lived in the basement and woke everyday to the sounds of the Mill's Brothers song "Paper Doll.
I had the opportunity to share some jazz and a glass or two of gin with Chuck. I miss him.

Posted by: Tracy Alan Laux (Kent, Ohio) on May 19, 2010 10:41PM
I just happened on this page devoted to my old friend Chuck Ruby and am grieved not only that this outstanding radio host is no longer sharing his talent with all of us but that I didn't hear of it. Chuck and I started at WKSU at the same time and worked in the newsroom producing newscasts (obviously) but we were both music junkies and soon wormed our way into the on-air music staff hosting Jazzbeat and Fresh Air- two shows that attracted the progressive minded music jocks. I believe Chuck also hosted a blues show for several years- I'm not sure for how long since I left after I graduated and moved to Dayton. I have great memories of my time at WKSU with Ruby. We did get into a bit of trouble now and then but that's part of the lore that every great personality creates. Chuck was one to always be finding the fun in every situation and we can always use more friends like that. My sentiments echo everyone else's- "thanks for passing through a part of my life, Chuck, and may your sense of humor remain behind to spread healing in our troubled world!" So long and thanks for all the fish!

Posted by: Mike Reisz (Dayton, Oh) on October 7, 2009 10:05PM
I did an audio doucmentary about Fresh Air in 1978 whch is available on my website, Today, just for fun, I was listening to it with headphones as I worked and suddenly a familar voice popped out of the mix. I had to stop. "Who IS that?" I asked myself. It was also hilarious. He said something like "Fresh Air is like jungle rot, it's tough to get rid of." I searched my sense memory and realized it was the voice of Chuck--a lone comment by him on this tape I made 30 years ago. His familiar voice jumped out and grabbed me. So I've been thinking about him all day.

I used to do Fresh Air once a week all night and when he would come in to do the Morning Show in the early early morning, he'd always burst in, taking ownership of the room and he'd usually have some ascerbic comment to make when he saw me. Like the jungle rot quip. He had a sarcastic and biting wit and he always delivered it with a dead pan expression but there was never a question that a wise crack had just been uttered. He kind of looked over with a twinkle in his eye to make sure it wasn't lost on me.

But he also influenced me in a serious way. I listened to him on WKSU way before I was on the air myself and so I am sure there was a little bit of him in my dreams of being an announcer and it stuck around when those dreams were manfested. He set the bar high.

It is nice to read this tribute and everybody's comments. An homage to a great guy.

Posted by: Mark Bloch (New York, New York) on August 19, 2008 9:43PM
Although I never I never had the pleasure of meeting him personally, I feel like a part of my family is gone. When I was a listner in the to WKSU. All the programs like Jazz sessions and Fresh air , The announcers made it feel more like you were having friends over to play some great unheard music than a regular radio program. That personal touch is one reason all these years later some fans are still listening to our now 30 year old recordings.

Posted by: Steve Piotrowski (Riverside California) on July 1, 2008 2:17PM
Chuck was one of my dearest friends and colleagues. I first met him around 1974 when I was a student here at Kent State University BEFORE he decided to wear sandals for the rest of his life. In fact, he wore leather boots that were up to his knees. Chuck did just about everything at WKSU - because in those days, we all did just about everything.

Chuck had an ear for music and for people. He introduced so many of us to new music that he had discovered, and it could be in almost any idiom: Jazz, Folk, Blues, Rock, etc. Chuck was in essence our Operations Director, but he also hosted a number of programs on WKSU, including Jazz in the A.M., Jazz Beat, and Blues programs. He even did the news from time to time.

Chuck was at the board on July 22, 1980 when WKSU went from 7,500 watts to 50,000 watts, when we signed on as an NPR station, when we went to satellite transmissions from NPR. Chuck also was enormous help to me in my efforts to record the Kent State Folk Festival. I remember those days as being a great combination of Dick Dain and Chuck Ruby. We recorded everything, even the workshops, which just goes to show we were young and, well, energetic.

At the time, Chuck was the embodiment of WKSU. He was the station's most familiar voice and he was a mentor to me, Jeff Esworthy, Mark Urycki, David Roden, Jeff Wooten and countless others who worked here in the 1970s. He introduced me to a number of musicians who we took turns recording and interviewing. Chuck was also the consummate prankster - lighting people's pants on fire, trying to coax one of my old girlfriends to show up and sit in the front row of the church at my wedding.

I continued to stay in touch with Chuck when I took his place in 1980, and watch him as he moved from Florida to Wisconsin. We remained friends and, in spirit, we will stay friends. I will miss him and I have to say that I'm very proud of the way he lived his life -- always exploring new possibilities, sharing his knowledge of music, religion, food, and gardening.

It's tough when a friend passes who is close to you in age and in spirit, it makes you take a look at your own life and see how you measure up. Chuck now, as he always did in the past, leads the way on that next journey. I'm sure he'll carve a path for us and have new stories to share at some point down the road.

All the best you to my friend, I'll see you on the other side.

Posted by: Al Bartholet (WKSU) on June 27, 2008 9:51AM
Thank you for all of your comments and memories of my brother. This is a very hard loss to accept, for he has left us too soon. It is comforting to know he impacted so many lives, and I know he would be touched, because he sometimes felt that he had been forgotten. Thank you so much for remembering! Sincerely, Chuck's sister, usually referred to as "Cubby"

Posted by: Catherine Ruby (London, KY) on June 25, 2008 10:08PM
Chuck was sort of my mentor in the radio business. I was the scared-to-death new kid on the overnights...Chuck was the cool-as-a-cucumber morning guy. The morning show started at 6am, and Chuck would stroll through the doors at about 5:58:30, grab a record out of the library on his way to the control room, and proceed to make great radio. I hadn't spoken to Chuck in years, but always remembered him when thinking about the "good old days" at WKSU. When I was 19 there was nobody cooler than Chuck Ruby. 30 years later my opinion hasn't changed. Thanks for the memories, Chuck. You were one of the good guys.

Posted by: Jeff Esworthy (Minnesota) on June 25, 2008 10:19AM
Ruby < as family called him> was my ex brother in law... When my sister called and I found out this great guy had passed I was so shaken with grief . Even though I had not seen him in years he was always very kind to me... kind of a "brother" figure when I was living with them in Kent back in the 70's..I remember listening to him on the radio and thinking what a great voice he had a gift for that venue.
Please remember my nephew, Nicholas, Chucks son , in your prayers also. Thank You

Posted by: Jeannie (Tempe AZ) on June 24, 2008 10:36PM
A great guy. Sorry to hear of his passing.

Whenever we saw each other we had a standing joke: I'd say, "What's the high going to be today?" Chuck's response, "Well, today it's gonna be amphetamines, wine and lots of grass."

We both loved jazz, which I played while working a shift at 91.1 WRUW-FM during high school. The CTI label was big then but he turned me on to all kinds of styles and names.

Chuck was our Zappa-like guy, a bit of a troublemaker, but always independently-minded.

Thank you God for Chuck Ruby!

Posted by: Jim Fisher (Cleveland, OH) on June 24, 2008 6:39PM
I met Chuck soon after being transfered to WKSU-FM. I was the stations only long haired hippie like male and was looking for a friend to help me navigate my new position in charge of advertising and publications. In to my office comes Ruby with sunglasses, an open shirt, socks, sandals and a cig. He looked like a cross between a jazz musician and a beatnick. Only Ruby could pull off this look. He would say, "Not only do I pull it off I make it look good." This was long before Will stole the line. I instantly took to this character. He was one of the reasons that I enjoyed and thrived at the station. He was just too cool. Chuck was a key part of driving me and the station to be a more active part of the evolving music scene. He had an amazing number of contacts that he networked through. Chuck was our imbeded reporter in the music scene. He got the inside because more often than not he was on the inside. I used to go to him repeatly looking for a unique story idea for the magazine. He generally knew, knew who to call and occasionally wrote it. His inside track clearly came across on the air. Listener's thrived on the personal knowledge and context that he delivered with the music. I can't help but believe that his style and leadership influanced the students and staff to produce some of the best radio I have heard to this day.
During, his time at WKSU Chuck Ruby influanced the place, as he would of said," like a bad aftershave." Ruby's influance just oozed through the place. Staff, volunteers, musicians, students, listeners and friends were all bit better off to have been touched by his spirit. I am proud to have called him my friend.

Since friday I have been wearing sandals and will continue to wear them through Chuck Ruby week... Chuck forgive me. I will not be wearing socks with my sandals no matter how cold it gets. You are the only one who could do that and still look cool.

I toast a life well lived. I toast a friend with a smile in my heart.



Posted by: Jon "ECK" Eckerle (Cleveland, O HI O) on June 24, 2008 4:49PM
The reason I came to WKSU in February of 1979,
as a volunteer and then shortly after as
part of the staff, was Chuck Ruby. On a cold February morning I was listening to Chuck's programs. He hosted folk and singer-songwriter
music from 6am till 8am and then Jazz In The AM, from 8am till 10am. Chuck played a promo
spot, voiced over by David Roden, requesting
people who might be inerested in volunteering at
WKSU to call the station and sign up for the cause. I did call. I did sign up to help the cause. I still am working for the cause and I
have Chuck Ruby to thank for that.

Shine on my friend.

Posted by: David Fuente, Jr. (WKSU) on June 24, 2008 4:27PM
Long before WKSU had a "proper" interview program, we would try to shag down various musicians...I remember Chuck carefully planning just HOW he was going to start the interview with Tom Waits, the recording of which is posted Chuck searched all over Kent for a pack of OLD GOLD cigarettes so he could hand Tom the whole pack at the start of the interview to break the ground and set the proper tone. As it turned out, he was not too happy with the interview, since the SCENE reporter barged in before it started and ambushed most of it. I was pleased that a Google search yesterday turned up WKSU and 2 of his interviews on the Xerographic blog as the first 3 hits. Further down the Google list are references about Chuck from various musicians that had been helped out along the way by Chuck too. Certainly a fitting tribute to what he was all about.

Posted by: Jeff Wootton (Akron Ohio) on June 24, 2008 2:24PM
One time I was standing outside the master-control and Chuck, Jeff Esworthy and myself were rapping about Jazz music when all of a sudden I noticed my pants were smoking. Chuck had put a lit cigarette inside my front pants pocket. Needless to say he got my attention. Chuck was the reason I came to KSU to be with WKSU as being my goal in Telecom as a fifteen year old listening to Jazz in the AM at the College of Wooster. I will always remember your soul Chuck.

Posted by: Bryan chandler (San Francisco) on June 24, 2008 1:56PM
I have declared the last week of June to be "Sandals Week," this and every year.

After we heard about Chuck becoming ill, I sent notice to colleagues past and present who knew him. There have been so many expressions of grief and thanks for having known Chuck. I thought I'd share some here.


I think that's one of the best declarations I've ever heard. Thank you.
I will be wearing sandals next week. With socks. ;-)

I'll never forget Chuck, back on a visit after he'd become a GM, telling me the story of his union techs who groused because he took away their television set. "Wait," he said. "I'm calling the newspaper. I want you to tell them that you're filing a grievance because I won't let you watch television at work."


Now I have to go find a Kleenex.

I am in sandals sans socks.

God bless you and god bless Chuck

Jesus Christ, this is all just so sad.

A really good guy - kind, smart, and funny.

Chuck WAS the reason I went to WKSU after listening to Jazz in the AM for years. His voice and of course his spirit are the things that guide me through life even though we hadn't talked for two years. He was an amazing guy. I will sorely miss him.

OMG. I can't believe this ... This is terrible news.

I'll miss Chuck's at times annoying sense of humor. I always responded by telling him to "Quit acting like an eight year old."? Hummm. That's exactly how I act towards members of my family. And I guess that's the point of this rambling; Chuck WAS family.

A joker and a good friend, with an extensive mind for music...covering everything from Maynard Ferguson to The Eggplant That Ate Chicago (true...he actually told me about that last one, he has the record to prove it!).

Good lord ... this is amazingly sad.

Of course I am devastated too, but while it tends to be a cliche, I am certain that Chuck would want us to celebrate, not mourn. He would want music, and for all of his friends to come together, as we are doing now.

Safe Journeys Chuck, it was our pleasure to have known you.

I think that says it all. Chuck had a profound impact on those who knew him, and he will live on through us.
There is an online obituary and guestbook for remembrances at

Posted by: Deborah Frazier (Kent, OH) on June 23, 2008 1:47PM
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