Richard “Rick” Murphy
Richard “Rick” Murphy, age 63, passed away on Friday, August 31, 2012. Rick Murphy was born in Milwaukee on April 26, 1949. His destiny in life was set early on; participating in a local kids shows, three year old Rick ignored the swing sets and instead followed the wires until he reached the recording equipment and engineers. Rick graduated from Nicolet High School in 1967, and came to Madison to study at the UW-Madison. He worked on the student radio station and then was hired by WIBA am as an announcer. In 1969, he and some of the other ‘youngsters’ were given a chance to do something with the FM frequency of. The result was Radio Free Madison, a station where the DJs selected the music and the music really meant something. In addition to being an on-air host, Rick helped produce the Radio Free Madison concerts, where local and national bands were recorded and broadcast live.
Rick went on to become one of the founders of Full Compass Studios, Madison’s first professional recording studio. Rick also worked for WHA radio producing Ear Play, a radio show featuring original dramas. Rick had stints at most every radio station in town. He created Rick’s Café, a nationally syndicated radio show featuring music and commentary. Rick fell in love with Jamaica and reggae music and turned his enjoyment of this into the WORT show Tropical Riddums, which still airs today. In addition to radio, Rick was also a pianist specializing in ragtime and a talented music composer and lyricist. He was one half of the Western Group “Two Happy Cowboys from Wisconsin” and wrote many of their songs. While their one CD never brought fame and fortune, a song from it was used on the Northern Exposure TV show. Rick became fascinated with Will Rogers, learned to do rope tricks, and created a Will Rogers tribute show that was performed in many locations around the Midwest. He was a knowledgeable fan and advocate of rail transit.
Rick was a loyal and steadfast friend to many, many people of all ages and walks of life. He was an uncompromising optimist who always expected the best from everyone and every situation. He was a bright light of enthusiasm and creativity, and always had at least 5 great ideas he was simultaneously working on. Rick was one of the kindest people ever to walk this planet.
Rick is survived by his wife, Paula Sherman; stepdaughter, Rachel Jensen; in-laws, June & Sy Sherman; his mother, Mary Murphy; his best buddy and favorite aunt, Dorothy Pringle; sister, Dorothy Murphy; and nephews, Paul Koehler (Yayoi Shimizuguchi) and Rob Koehler; and many cousins, especially Carl Blesch (Anne) and Mary Kempen; as well as numerous good friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Dick Murphy; and brother, Bob Murphy.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to WORT.
Many thanks to the staff at UW Hospital TLC North for their compassion and care during Rick’s illness. Rick, you will be missed.
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