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Tribute to Ron Wortham

Ron Worthan

By Liz Boyle

DJ Ron Wortham, once dubbed "Spokesperson for the Phoenix Hippie Community" by The Arizona Republic, died last week. Wortham started in Phoenix radio, reporting overnight news on KOY, and went on to become one of the first generation of Phoenix underground rock radio DJs. Wortham, along with the legendary album rock programmer, Bill Compton, was at the forefront of Phoenix album rock radio as a founding member of the underground KCAC air staff.

The early days of Phoenix album rock radio were the days of free love, head shop commercials, a station sponsored drug hotline, and Wortham and Compton enjoying communal living, on an old west valley ranch, with many of the original KDKB staff, as well as members of Phoenix' underground newspaper, Rebirth.

Ron emerged as a desert hippie dj, at a time when rock and roll wore it's mysticism like a bandana, and he became an open-minded believer in alternate theories. Some of Ron's rock and roll psychic connections were uncanny, including his fascination with the boy on the cover of his favorite Moody Blues album. His son Dustin, born many years later, would grow to look exactly like the boy in the picture. In the new century, though social media, Ron was still questioning authority, and pondering the improbable.

Recently, Ron was excited about the new frontier of underground radio, the Internet. In his autobiography "Plant Your Seeds" Wortham expressed excitement in this new kind of radio; "KCAC you see, had children and grandchildren. KDKB was one of those but there have been others as well. Since this was written at least four of the powerful personalities that made that radio station, have died. They are William Edward Compton, Hank Cookenboo, Gary Kinsey (Toad Hall) and Dwight Tindle…good friends, all.Ron Worthan Radio Free Phoenix dances in the spirit of KCAC. Totally Free Form, for a whole new generation of growing and freely formed Creative Spirits that refuse to let a wall or a box define their existence. In that respect, Radio Free Phoenix represents Hope and that too, represents Faith.

Bill is gone, now. So is Toad. So are Hank and Dwight. The monster that is our society's Correctional System has eaten others. So someday, shall I be gone also in some way or another. I think I must have been left behind to show you where the spirit resides now and invite you to join the dance…a dance that is now over 35 years old.

You are free also to participate in a blog of surviving KCAC veterans and fans who, as you might imagine, are fun to be around, to read and write to and even hear again. There is a growing collection of audio clips all over the blog, of old tapes of Bill particularly and others, that have been donated from the closets, cassettes and tape reels of many "old timers" like us.

Ron was on the air in Phoenix at KOY, KRUX, KCAC and KDKB. He deserves his place in the history of Phoenix Rock Radio. Ron Wortham never stopped trying to change the world and never stopped rocking. He will be missed greatly by a generation who loved his sound and his soul, and of course, his friends at Radio Free Phoenix.