Diocesan radio director recalls Ramblin' Lou's legacy

by KIMBERLEE SABSHIN
Wed, Jun 8th 2016 09:00 am
Staff Reporter
Gregg Prince, director of Diocesan Radio Ministry, drops off a recording of Western New York Catholic Weekly to Ramblin' Lou Schriver, the longtime owner of WXRL Radio in Lancaster. (Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer)
Gregg Prince, director of Diocesan Radio Ministry, drops off a recording of Western New York Catholic Weekly to Ramblin' Lou Schriver, the longtime owner of WXRL Radio in Lancaster. (Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer)

Before he passed away this year, Ramblin' Lou Schriver, nicknamed "Western New York's Father of Country Music," was known for having an impact on not only country music, but also radio and broadcasting. During his career, Ramblin' Lou and his family established rapport with the Diocese of Buffalo and its assistant director of communications for radio, Gregg Prince. Prince spoke last month about Lou's many contributions in the area and his support of both Catholic radio and the Western New York Catholic.

According to Prince, the two developed mutual support over the years, and as a local affiliate, WXRL and the Office of Communications frequently worked together through Prince.

"In some ways, it's kind of funny because for years, going back 20 years, every now and then we'd hear from Lou Schriver and he'd say, 'I'd be interested anytime if you've got any programming you'd like to air, if you're ever doing commercials or promotions, let me know.' Lou was kind of the last of the old-school radio guys."

Prince recalled how, through the 1980s and '90s, the radio industry underwent consolidation and many local radio hosts, such as Schriver, sold their stations since this was beneficial to them.

"During all this time - of course, Lou's pretty persistent - it's his station, and he was the face and voice of WXRL, and so he was one that kept a close watch on, and a close relationship with, his clients and potential clients," Prince said. "When you're in a city like Buffalo, the Catholic Diocese, we have a lot of Catholics in Western New York. He wanted to keep that door open. Before we ever had a program with him, he approached us about being able to get advertising in with the Western New York Catholic."

For years, Ramblin' Lou's ads could be seen on the Arts and Entertainment page of the official diocesan newspaper. Prince said the partnership went well since the Office of Communications frequently has various programs or initiatives to promote via the Catholic Communications Campaign, the paper itself and Daybreak TV Productions. Schriver also wished to keep a Catholic audience for his station.

"For a station like his, (this was) probably a good move," Prince said. "It was beneficial for both of us, just like the advertising relationship had been. We're very lucky. It's been over a decade now that we've been on WXRL, and we get a great response from their audience. Working with Lou and the whole Schriver family, and the whole staff over there, has been terrific. You can't work with nicer people in broadcasting, and I don't feel like I'm slighting anyone else when I say that, because pretty much everyone in broadcasting has that opinion of Lou and the Schriver family. Ramblin' Lou is a legend."

In addition to Lou and his wife, Joanie, the Schriver family consists of their children: Linda Lou, Lori Ann, Lou IV and Lynn Carol, and five grandchildren: Crista Marie, Lindsey Carol, Lou V, Luke Austin and Raj. The Ramblin' Lou Family Band has maintained a regular presence at local events, including the Erie County Fair in Hamburg. With the eldest Lou's passing, the diocese plans to continue the relationship.

Prince said the diocese is still working with the family and plans to continue to do so.

"We've talked, and we don't anticipate any changes going forward," Prince said. "I still work with Linda Lou - that's who we deliver programs and the spots to. She's my contact there. Lou Jr. (IV), I'm still in contact with him, and he is still in charge of sales, advertising, and those things. Lynn Carol handles on-air operations."

Ramblin' Lou, who was born July 19, 1929, enjoyed a radio and music career spanning 69 years. As a young man, he introduced Hank Williams Sr. at a live show in Niagara Falls. His lifetime achievements include induction into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Broadcasters' Hall of Fame in Western New York. In the Nashville area, he was a lifetime member of the Country Music Association, and he and Joanie have stars on the walkway of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Lou was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, of which Prince noted there are very few living in Western New York.  

The Catholic Communication Campaign helps us to grow in faith, worship, and witness. The collection will take place in most parishes the weekend of June 11-12. To donate online, click here.

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