I'm like a lot of you. I've been listening to Ron Diaz on the radio since I stepped foot in the Tampa Bay area. No offense to anyone else who's ever been on WDAE, but the Ron and Ian Show was my favorite show as soon as I got settled in as a listener. After moving here I interned and then worked at another radio station, but I was secretely a WDAE listener and huge Ron and Ian fan. I was your average Ham and Egger, and it made me feel like part of the show the way I hope the Goon Squad does for our listeners today.
A few years later when I was in between my two radio gigs I found myself at a food and beer event at Lowery Park Zoo (now Zoo Tampa). As we were in line for food I looked over and there's Ron. I looked at him like I was pissed about something and just said, "hey, pal." Ron looked at me as if he was wondering if I was serious talking to him like that. I smirked and just said, "that's the Ham and Egger line." Ron realized I was a listener and couldn't have been nicer as we chatted while waiting in line.
A little while later I'm a partner in a company called Tampa Live Sports that did live streaming sports on the internet, and writing about sports for Creative Loafing as a way to stay in the press box. I'm listening one afternoon and Ron just starts losing his mind about how this guy, this damn guy, that called Ron and said, "Ron, it's my birthday. Do you think you can get me some Candlebox tickets." Like I imagine most listeners were doing, I was laughing my ass off, because that's classic Diaz. That weekend I'm in the press box at a Bucs game and who do I see walking towards me, but Ron. I say hi, knowing damn well that he doesn't recognize me from the first time we met, but again, Ron couldn't be nicer. I look him dead in the eye as serious as I could be and said, "Hey Ron, it's actually my birthday today." I almost cracked a smile as he looked at me like he wanted to kill me, and then I hit him with it. "Do you think you could get me some Candlebox tickets?" Immediately Ron started to crack up and he looked at me and said, "This Bleeping guy!"
Not long after that I started harrasing our buddy Greg Wolf about allowing our company to stream Ron and Ian's dodgeball tournament. That was my in. Below is the first time I was ever on the air on WDAE. I did an interview with Ron and Ian about the dodgeball tournament and as we were talking about what I did at my company at the time Ron stopped at one point and said, "Pat you have a radio voice." I couldn't explain what that did for my confidence as a guy early in his career who was just trying to get his foot in the door. It was huge.
From listening to Ron, to getting to work alongside him, to eventually be promoted to be one of the hosts of the show that leads into his, Ron Diaz has had an unbelievable impact on my path at WDAE, and I coulnd't be happier for him as he enters retirement, even though, like a lot of you, I'll miss listening every chance I get. Why wouldn't we? The man is a legend.