SOUTHERN MARYLAND, October 26, 2013 — A visit to Southern Maryland’s premier classic rock radio station “The Rocket” WMDM 97.7 to meet the local personality known as “Ripley,” was to spend three hours with the real deal. Ripley’s path to radio-land has a fascinating history.
In a time machine going back to 1989, we find Ripley, a Baltimore City police sergeant, rolling on the ground with what must have been a very powerful criminal because Ripley appears a man not to be messed with even at 55 years of age.
In that battle—one of many Ripley endured by being assigned to some of the roughest areas of Baltimore—life and death was in the balance as both cop and criminal had their hands on Ripley’s service revolver.
In order to not be shot, Ripley squeezed off every round available to assure his firearm was empty and no longer a threat but suffered wrist and arm injuries that would end his career that had begun some 12 years earlier.
It was known through the police fraternity that Ripley had previously shot one assailant and had drawn his weapon so many times, he had to replace his worn out holster and have his service weapon re-blued (coated) due to wear.
After leaving Baltimore, Ripley moved to Florida where one day, he observed (cops don’t see anything—they observe; and they don’t go anywhere—they proceed) the plethora of cars piled up on the high-speed highways and quipped “This is like crash-boom-baa.” The moniker stuck as he begins his radio traffic reports with “Crash-boom-baa.”
WMDM hired Ripley after he attended school for broadcasting, a move based on the many comments he received suggesting he had a voice for radio. Ripley feels honored to have the trust and freedom of an ownership and management that allow on-air staff to operate their shows as autonomous personalities and entertainers which makes for great radio. Picked up far and wide in regions of Maryland and Virginia, the station’s on-air personalities have attained local celebrity status.
WMDM has sister stations WSDM 98.3 “Star with T’Bone and Heather” and country WKIK with “Awesome Frank Dawson” helping make Somar Communications a larger, more diversified broadcast company.
Ripley is involved in many community affairs activities such as adopt-a-pet, charity drives and fund raisers, often rallying bikers for various causes. That’s not surprising, as Ripley owns and rides a 2006 Harley Street Hog.
Ripley sits in front of what appears to be a Boeing 757 cockpit, timing music, doing commercials, weather, traffic and national news, essentially running his own show by himself. He said when he first started in his newfound profession, he put a picture of someone in front of him to provide a psychologial list, as if while on radio, he really was speaking to someone in person.
With the click of a key, up pops the Washington Times Communities website. In a matter-of-fact fashion, Ripley exclaimed “I use the Washington Times Communities for news. The Washington Post is biased and has nowhere near the variety.”
No argument here.
Today, now a nine-year veteran of on-air broadcasting, Ripley is clearly adept at what he’s doing and comfortable in his role. He puts on a wonderful rockin’ daily show and cherishes his off-air life with his wife and children. To be around for his family a bit longer, the one-time two pack a day smoker quit cigarettes and went on to lose 70 lbs.
This is a far cry from rolling around on a Baltimore City street with a thug that has intent to kill.
Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia-based writer and pyschotherapist
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