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Ron Esposito memorial tribute concert set for Oct. 1

Former WVXU-FM music director Ron Esposito died June 24.
Courtesy Edward Sawicki
Former WVXU-FM music director Ron Esposito died June 24.

The life coach, blues musician and former WVXU-FM music director and host died June 24.

Friends and musicians will gather Sunday, Oct. 1, to celebrate the life of Ron Esposito, a blues musician, life coach and former WVXU-FM music director and Blues Spot host.

Esposito, 72, died June 24, two days after a heart attack while working out.

Local blues musician Ricky Nye, who met Esposito on Blues Spot in 1988, is organizing the memorial concert at 3 p.m. Oct. 1, at the Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky.

Longtime friend and blues guitarist Greg Schaber will be among the performers at the gathering. Esposito played bass with the Greg Schaber & High Street blues band for 13 years, and recorded four CDs.

"For years we talked every day. We were like brothers in arms," Schaber says. "Ron moved in a lot of different directions. He played a lot of different roles for different people. Everyone who knew him loved him."

Ron Esposito was known for his unique wardrobe at WVXU-FM.
Ron Esposito was known for his unique wardrobe at WVXU-FM.

"He was kind of a Renaissance man. He was so steeped in the music scene, and he loved all kinds of music," says Lee Hay, who produced music shows at WVXU-FM when Esposito was music director until Xavier University sold the station in 2005 to Cincinnati Public Radio.

Hay recruited Esposito to contribute interviews for her Around Cincinnati Sunday night WVXU-FM arts show until it ended when she retired in 2020. The two hooked up again earlier this year doing Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame interviews for WMKV-FM, the nonprofit station at Maple Knoll Village in Springdale.

"He was just so much fun to be around. He was always so positive and inspirational," Hay says.

At the Xavier station, Esposito was known for his distinctive wardrobe. Former colleague Mark Magistrelli described Esposito as "a Hawaiian shirt in a gray flannel universe, a welcome dash of color and life in the often arid precincts of public broadcasting." Hay says Esposito "reminded me of (jazz great) Miles Davis, because you never knew what he was going to wear."

After leaving WVXU-FM, he put away his electric and upright bass instruments to play singing Tibetan brass bowls and quartz crystal bowls. "The crystal bowls were perfect for him, with the meditation aspect of it," Schaber says.

Esposito's music was used in Nicolas Cage's The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent movie (hear samples in Ann Thompson's 2022 story) and such TV shows asHawaii 5-0(CBS), Nashville (ABC), Touch (Fox), Common Law (USA) and Ray Donovan (Showtime), according to his bio.

Esposito, a Youngstown native, was well connected to the music industry.

Ron Esposito set up the crystal and Tibetan singing bowls in his office to demonstrate. what they sound like. This soothing music is night and day from the blues he used to play.
Ann Thompson
Ron Esposito with his crystal and Tibetan singing bowls in his office in 2022.

At Ohio University in the early 1970s, he chaired the school's concert committee which brought The Who, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin and others to Athens. After graduating with a radio/TV management degree in 1972, he was assistant manager of Boston's premiere jazz club, The Jazz Workshop. He also was a road manager for CTI (Creed Taylor International) Records; did radio promotion for the PM Records jazz label; and owned Haffa's Records in Athens, Ohio, for five years before moving to Cincinnati in 1986 to work at Xavier's WVXU-FM for the next 20 years.

Esposito had many roles at the Xavier station. He produced and marketed WVXU-FM's original Ruth Lyons, D-Day and Christmas CDs; helped develop the Audiosyncracies show; procured national acts for station concerts at Taft and Emery theaters; and served as stage manager for the Riders in the Sky concerts at the Emery for WVXU's nationally syndicated Riders Radio Theater.

"Ron was very detail oriented. If you needed something done, you knew it would be done very well," Schaber says. "The Riders crew called him 'Solid L. Ron.' " Esposito loved the fake name "Meglipto Tragmolian," which was always included in credits for shows he produced, says George Zahn, the WMKV-FM station manager who worked many years with Esposito at Xavier.

Esposito also produced blues concerts at Old Coney, Nye says.

The sale of WVXU-FM "put him on a new path with spiritualism," Hay says. He worked at the Conscious Living Center in Mount Auburn as a life coach, addiction recovery facilitator and teacher of Enneagram, which he described in a Facebook post as "a personality tool describing our thinking, feeling and behaving as well as underlying motivation."

And he began playing the brass and crystal bowls, which he described as having "a very pure tone, with a very long resonating quality. So what happens is that you start to stack notes on top of one another which actually form chords. And if you listen very closely, it's almost like slow moving clouds going across the sky of your mind. "

Edward Sawicki, former Cincinnati Blues Society president, shot this photograph of his longtime friend Ron Esposito.
Courtesy Edward Sawicki
Edward Sawicki, former Cincinnati Blues Society president, shot this photograph of his longtime friend Ron Esposito.

Details for the tribute concert are not final, Nye says. It will include remembrances from friends and some musicians who played with Esposito in recent years. Schaber says he'll be joined by Craig Comer on drums, Chris Werner on bass and Lawrence Bloomfield on harmonica.

Nye says that "doing this (concert) a few months late is inconsequential. Nobody is going to forget Ron Esposito."

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.