Marching forward

Rockin’ Ron Cade sets out to find new home for The Elvis & Friends Radio Show.

Cut short: After 39 years on the air, Rockin’ Ron Cade’s Elvis & Friends Radio Show was cut from WOGL along with several other specialty shows. Until he finds a new home for his show, Cade plans to continue to host The Elvis & Friends Dinner Show, a semi-regular concert featuring an Elvis tribute artist. PHOTO: RON CADE

For almost four decades, listeners throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding regions were given a special glimpse into the world of Elvis Presley.

With unreleased recordings and interviews with love interests, it was one fan’s mission to show how the King was more than the controversial hip-shaker on The Ed Sullivan Show. Rockin’ Ron Cade’s Elvis & Friends Radio Show was a Sunday morning staple on the airwaves. But after 39 years, it needs to find a new station to call home.

On June 7, Cade’s world was turned upside down in a matter of seconds when he learned he and several other specialty show hosts on 98.1 WOGL were being terminated due to a change in direction by the company.

“It was talent that had been in the business most of their lives,” the Levittown resident said.

Though he witnessed the station letting go broadcast veterans one by one over the years, he never thought it would happen to him. He had the longest-running Elvis radio show in America with loyal listeners who tuned in every week from 7 to 10 a.m., and ratings that were consistently in the top 10. But times change, especially in the radio industry, and specialty shows are rapidly ceasing to exist.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” he said. “It speaks volumes of the state of radio in 2017.”

But Cade isn’t giving up on his passion that easily. Already searching for new opportunities with different stations and satellite options such as SiriusXM, he wants to continue to share the versatility of Elvis with new and old fans alike.

“You can’t do a show like this for any artist,” he said.

For 1,560 consecutive weeks, Cade programmed and wrote every show since his first broadcast, and somehow managed to make it a new experience for listeners each time so they never knew what was coming next. The Elvis & Friends Radio Show showcased the star in his entirety with equal focus on his blues, rock, country and gospel tracks. Listeners heard unofficial tracks recorded at Sun Records, rare audio clips from people like Ginger Alden, Elvis’ last love interest, and tidbits on how particular songs were written.

The show was far from Cade playing song after song. His mission was to educate his listeners and enlighten them on how much deeper Elvis went than the widely known Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog.

“It was an emotional musical trip,” he reflected.

It was Cade’s knowledge, passion and creativity that kept old listeners coming back for more and expanded his audience across multiple generations.

“Elvis didn’t happen in their lifetime but they were still discovering him,” he said of his younger listeners.

Thanks to the power of the internet, the Elvis & Friends Radio Show not only spanned generations, but also the country. On wogl.cbslocal.com, audiences nationwide could join Cade in celebrating the King’s legacy. He reflected on a message he received from a woman in Elvis’ hometown of Memphis who was listening to his show at the gates of Graceland, which was one of the most surreal experiences of his career.

While he works to get his radio show back on the airwaves, Cade will continue to host The Elvis & Friends Dinner Show, a semi-regular concert featuring Elvis tribute artist Jeffrey Krick Jr. Upcoming dates include Saturday, Oct. 28, at Elizabeth’s Ballroom in Gloucester City, New Jersey and Sunday, Dec. 17, at Brookside Manor in Feasterville. More information can be found at memphismemoriesproductions.com/concert.html

Rockin’ Ron Cade’s career has truly come full circle. Thirty-nine years ago, Elvis & Friends Radio Show was met with resistance. Cade was told, “Nobody wants to hear that,” but he knew people did. He defied the odds and got the show on the airwaves. Just like before, he welcomes the challenge. ••