Friday, October 22, 2004

Ronald M. Beach put Clermont Co. on air

WOBO-FM listeners also can thank him

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

BATAVIA - Ronald M. Beach, a retired vice president of the Honeywell Corp., donated his expertise in broadcast journalism to the citizens of Clermont County.

A videographer for the board of commissioners, he also ran a local-access channel for Clermont County. "It was a passion for him that our citizens know what was going on with our government," said Kathy Lehr, county communications director.

In addition, he set up and produced a local government TV program out of a room in the Stonelick Township Hall. "He went to Warner and he asked if they could have the station and he programmed it," his wife, Constance, said. Mr. Beach hauled in and set up computers, timing devices and cameras. Channel 15 or 8, depending on the type of cable access customers have, is primarily a government access channel, but citizens could also tune into holiday specials, find out the weather forecast and listen to music from WOBO-FM - a radio station Mr. Beach helped establish.

WOBO-FM was "pretty much his brainchild," Lehr said. It began as a small radio station operated by journalism students in the Clermont Northeastern School District. In 1979, the school board had to deal with waning student interest and FCC rules that licensed stations must broadcast at least 12 hours a day.

Mr. Beach was at the forefront of the station's transition from a school-owned enterprise to a corporation run by volunteers. "They started getting volunteers that worked out of the school for a while," his wife said. "Then they had a little, tiny brick house - called 'the outhouse' in Owensville." Mr. Beach set the station up and trained students and volunteers to program and broadcast 24 hours a day. "This was just a labor of love," his wife said. "He never got any money at all except for supplies."

Mr. Beach died of lung cancer Saturday at his home in Batavia. He was 65.

"Ron Beach was a fighter," Lehr said. He was ""probably one of the most opinionated individuals I've ever met in my life. There was always something to be learned from what he said...about life, about fighting for what you believe in and about never giving up."

Mr. Beach was vice president of American Alarm Co. from 1968 until 1983, then worked for Honeywell for 17 years before retiring.

Last year, he was grand marshal of the Clermont County Fair parade.

"He was real hard on the outside but a real creampuff on the inside," Lehr said.

Mr. Beach graduated from Central Bucks High School in Doylestown, Pa. and attended the University of Miami in Florida and Columbia School of Broadcasting.

He was a former member of the Owensville Fire Department.

In addition to his wife of 44 years, survivors include two daughters, Jennifer Kingof Terrace Park and Kristin Friddle of Johnstown, Ohio; his father, Ronald O. Beach of Rochester, Mich.; a brother, Larry of Rehoboth Beach, Del. ; a sister, Christine Bechtel of Green Bay, Wis., and three grandchildren.

Services have been held.

Memorials: Clermont Animal Shelter, 4025 Filager Road, Batavia, OH 45103 or Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242.

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