MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (March 3, 2023) — 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.

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 n’ roll, country, Spanish, and other genres, it airs on the College's 105.9 FM station from 2-4PM on Wednesdays and 11AM-12PM 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."

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 1 Billboard pop hit in the US. But she had a total of ten Top Ten hits, including "When Will I Be Loved," which peaked at N° 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.

"'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 N° 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."

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 N° 3 on the Billboard chart. "For a 1980s album, I'd say Mad Love (which also reached N° 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 fifteen "essential" songs by Ronstadt.

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