For 41 years, Jeff Ruth’s smooth tones graced the airways at WMRN radio. Local listeners turned to Ruth for news, sports, and community events. Ruth filled the airways from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. with up to three local interviews each day as well as an hour of Tradio, where locals would call in with items for sale. Ruth shared his secret for staying on local radio for decades.
“You have to care about your listener. You have to relate on a personal level,” Ruth said. “You have to be involved in the community. If somebody’s having a grand opening for a new business in the evening, I’d go, show my support, and wish them luck.”
Ruth wasn’t afraid of long hours. After greeting Marion’s listeners at dawn, he often worked nights to broadcast 550 high school football games. All told, Ruth covered over 3,000 high school sporting events, including basketball, baseball, and softball games over his career.
“Obviously you have to really like what you’re doing to do that. Where else can you basically have a job that was fun and get paid for it!” Ruth exclaimed.
Ruth was at the Marion County Fair recently. A long-time listener came up and shared that Ruth had broadcast his high school football games in the 1990s.
“He said, ‘I still have the cassette tapes of every game that you broadcast when I was playing.’ That was 30 years ago. That made me feel good!” Ruth said.
Ruth also enjoyed covering Ohio State football and basketball games for Fox Sports Radio, including most Bowl games in the last 20 years.
“You don’t make a lot of money in small-town radio. There’s a lot more to life than making a lot of money. That’s being happy. I loved what I did. It was a fun job. I was able to travel and go to the ball games. It couldn’t have gone any better. I was so happy with how my career went and I’m very happy now. Life is good!” Ruth shared.
Ruth is enjoying retirement. After decades of waking at 4:30 a.m., “I don’t remember the last time I set an alarm,” Ruth said.
Not one to sit around, Ruth is working part-time as the sports and public affairs director for WZMO-LP Marion Community Radio 104.7 FM. On this low-power radio station, Ruth does several local interviews each week as well as high school football and basketball games on Friday nights.
This gives Ruth time to play golf and volunteer at Epworth United Methodist Church and the local Lions Club. In addition, Ruth pursues his love of travel with his son, Bryan Ruth, who works for Delta Airlines.
“When I retired in 2019, we did a lot of traveling. We went to Europe several times. We went to Paris and Cancun,” Ruth recalled.
While the COVID-19 pandemic paused their adventures, Ruth hopes to resume traveling this fall.
“I have been to all 50 states. I enjoy going to U.S. state capitols. In May, we went to Alaska and stopped in Juneau. That was the 47th state capitol. That was our first trip since the pandemic. Montana, Missouri, and New Mexico are the last three state capitols on my bucket list.”
Ruth is excited about Marion’s future.
“I see a lot of things going on in downtown Marion, Marion Tech, and OSUM. Marion’s a very resilient town. I’m pleased with the direction Marion is headed right now. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t still live here!” Ruth declared with a laugh.
“Marion’s a very giving community! There are a lot of people here with a lot of good intentions that want to give back. We have some really good teachers and good people in the schools and businesses,” Ruth said. “Time and time again, a business will step up and donate clothing, food, or money to meet a need. There are a lot of really good people in Marion.”