Ron Chapman, Dallas Radio and TV Legend dies at 85

by HB Auld, Jr

Ron Chapman, a Dallas, Texas, radio and television legend for more than 60 years, died Monday, April 26, 2021. Mr. Chapman was 85 years old.

This man had SO MUCH to do with my spending a lifetime in radio.

When I was 15 years old in Athens, Texas, I decided I might want a career in radio.  I listened to KLIF, the Mighty 1190, every morning. This was back in 1961 and I idolized the duo of Murphy and Harrigan, the morning team on KLIF then.  This was when Ron was teamed with Tom Murphy as “Irving Harrigan” and predates even the later days of Charlie and Harrigan.  

For Valentine’s Day, 1961, Murphy and Harrigan ran a contest called, “Your Heart’s Desire.”  Listeners were invited to mail in a postcard containing their “Heart’s Desire.”  I mailed mine in and one morning as I readied for school, Irving Harrigan read my entry ON THE AIR!  My heart’s desire was to go to Dallas and meet Irving Harrigan (In truth, I had hoped they would pay my way up there by bus or something).  Irving read it and then said something like, “Well, Sonny, save your newspaper route money and maybe you will get up here one day.”  And that was it, but I was hooked.  I had heard my name on the radio!  And it was uttered by the great Irving Harrigan (I had no idea then who Ron Chapman was).  

Fast forward three years.  I was 18 and my mom drove me to Dallas to take my FCC Third Class Endorsed Radiotelephone License.  I took the test that was required back then and I passed.  Afterward, I talked her into stopping by the KLIF radio studios.  I went inside, told the receptionist I was here to see Irving Harrigan (who had already gotten off the air by then).  She laughed in my face, but who should walk into the lobby but Irving Harrigan, himself.  She told him I was there to see him and I told him why.  He offered for me to take a “tour” of KLIF radio station with him as my “guide.”  I watched him cut a spot (I was amazed that he just walked in to a studio with just a mike and did the voiceover; a production engineer in the next room recorded it and then mixed it with music and sound effects.  None of the menial stuff for Irving Harrigan; he did voices only…a whole new concept to me back in 1964.)

Then, he showed me “HIS” studio.  Tom Murphy spun all of the records in a LARGE studio and off to the side in a little private booth that belonged SOLELY to Irving Harrigan was HIS little studio.  He showed me all of his sound effects bells and whistles, his own personal carts, and his own personal stand-up board.  He explained to me that he used a stand-up board because standing up, he was much more likely to reach around and get something out of a trunk or out of a rack on the wall than if he was sitting down. I WAS AMAZED.  

I went on to work in radio at several little small stations in East Texas and later at Armed Forces Radio and Television during a career in the Navy.  I never forgot about Irving Harrigan.

Fast forward to 1992.  By then I had retired from the Navy and moved back to McKinney, TX.  I was married and my two sons had grown up and moved away.  I heard one day that Ron Chapman was doing a remote that day.  I HAD to go down and see him…31 years after that first mention of my name on the radio.  I drove down to the remote, and watched him through the glass in a little portable travel trailer as he ran his remote shift.  When he was off the air, I told the engineer there I wanted to talk to him for just a few minutes and why.  Ron welcomed me inside his remote trailer.  I told him both stories above of our “meetings” so many years ago.  He pretended to remember (I know he didn’t, but it felt good) and then he gave me an autographed photo of himself.  Sadly, that photo was lost in a bad move later.  But, I will always remember a man who played the part of Irving Harrigan and took the time…TWICE…to make a young boy’s dreams come true:  once when I was 15 and once when I was 18.   I am 75 years old now and I have had a great life.  I never achieved greatness, but I have met greatness, and its name was Ron “Irving Harrigan” Chapman.  Thank you, Ron.  Rest In Peace, Sir!

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