Barry McNamara  |  Published March 02, 2023

She’s Still So Good

Monmouth student DJ Ryan Bowman dedicates radio show to the sounds of Linda Ronstadt.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A Grammy Award-winning singer found a new fan in Monmouth when Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice – the CNN documentary about the 1970s pop icon – aired a few years back.

RYAN BOWMAN: After watching CNN's documentary on Linda Ronstadt, he became a huge fan of the ... RYAN BOWMAN: After watching CNN's documentary on Linda Ronstadt, he became a huge fan of the singer, whose popularity was nearing its prime 50 years ago.Now, that avid fan – Monmouth College junior Ryan Bowman – is hoping to generate interest among his peers in the talented songstress, who recorded in diverse genres until her retirement in 2011 because of Parkinson’s disease.

Twice a week, Bowman airs a live broadcast of his WPFS-FM radio show, The Linda Ronstadt Experience. Dedicated to Ronstadt’s four-decade music career throughout rock and roll, country, Spanish and other genres, it airs on the College’s 105.9 FM station from 2-4 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 11 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

“That’s a question I’ve been getting asked quite a bit,” said Bowman of how his interest in Ronstadt began. “Two years ago, when I was a student at Carl Sandburg College, I was at my grandma’s, and we watched the CNN documentary about her. I was so invested in that. Immediately after that, I was playing ‘You’re No Good’ on a loop.”

“I was so invested in that (documentary). Immediately after that, I was playing ‘You’re No Good’ on a loop.” Ryan Bowman

Bowman was hooked. But it was a decision he made after earning an associate’s degree at Sandburg and transferring to Monmouth that enabled him to take his fandom to another level.

“This is my first time ever doing radio,” he said. “I’ve always had the idea in the back of my mind to do it, and I had a teacher tell me, ‘You have the voice for radio.’ So I decided to take the radio workshop. (Communication studies) Professor (Chris) Goble told me, ‘Your show can be about anything you want.’ A lot of ideas went through my head, but I decided it was the perfect opportunity to play music by Linda Ronstadt.”

Ronstadt’s Billboard hits

Surprisingly, “You’re No Good” was Ronstadt’s only No. 1 Billboard pop hit in the U.S. But she had a total of 10 Top 10 hits, including “When Will I Be Loved,” which peaked at No. 2.

A hit that, appropriately, has held up well through the years is “Long Long Time.” It was on the chart in the fall of 1970, before Ronstadt’s career had fully taken off, and it re-emerged more than half a century later as a featured song in HBO’s smash hit, The Last of Us.

PLENTY OF CHOICES: Student DJ Ryan Bowman has all kinds of options of Linda Ronstadt music to fil... PLENTY OF CHOICES: Student DJ Ryan Bowman has all kinds of options of Linda Ronstadt music to fill his three hours of programming per week. “’Long Long Time’ got a resurgence of popularity after that episode aired,” said Bowman. “It really defined the show. I don’t watch it regularly, but I’ve seen the clip, and I think the song fits perfectly.”

Two other Ronstadt songs – “Somewhere Out There” and “Don’t Know Much” – were duets that also reached No. 2. Her collaborators, respectively, were James Ingram and Aaron Neville. Most of the songs that Bowman plays feature Ronstadt, but he will occasionally slip in tracks by some of her partners in song, who have also included Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

Hard to pick just one

With so many songs to choose from, Bowman was asked if he has a personal favorite.

“Oh, gee,” Bowman responded. “I’m going to have to think a little on that one. Really, it depends on the time of day, the time of the week. She’s done a plethora of different genres. I find that I’ll latch onto a song, and I’ll love it, and then another song will come along.”

“Really, it depends on the time of day, the time of the week. She’s done a plethora of different genres. I find that I’ll latch onto a song, and I’ll love it, and then another song will come along.” Ryan Bowman

One of those genres was Broadway, and Ronstadt was nominated in 1981 for a Tony Award for her lead role in The Pirates of Penzance.

Bowman was more decisive when asked about his favorite Ronstadt album.

“For the 1970s, it’s Hasten Down the Wind,” he said of the 1976 album that includes “That’ll Be the Day” and reached No. 3 on the Billboard chart. “For a 1980s album, I’d say Mad Love (which also reached No. 3). There’s just something about it.”

Her album that followed Mad Love was Get Closer, which is essentially Bowman’s philosophy for his show. He wants to bring as many people as possible closer to the legendary singer.

“I hope a lot of people try it,” said Bowman. “It’s broadcast to the local community, too, so I hope they check it out.”

Read more:

Last month, Billboard released a story naming 15 “essential” songs by Ronstadt.

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