Remembering ‘Mr. Beach’

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

Saturday evening radio across the Heart of Virginia won’t ever be the same after the passing of Ronald Waters — better known as Steve “Mr. Beach” Leonard — on June 11.

Music lovers and radio enthusiasts knew very well Waters’ humor and his jubilant cry of “It’s summertimeeeee!” over the airwaves of WFLO radio station every Saturday evening.

Waters was instrumental in beach music’s success throughout Virginia. Though the 62-year-old disk jockey was very well-known for his radio show in Richmond, the “Sunday Night Beach Party,” his commitment to radio in Farmville shouldn’t be overlooked.

A short trip to Farmville in 2003 led Waters to pursue the Saturday night radio job with WFLO, according to Francis Wood, the station’s general manager.

His beach show was a local favorite for many, many years.

Wood said Waters performed every Saturday for 13 years on the radio. Waters rarely missed a show; he was absent maybe 10 Saturdays in all those years, Wood said.

Though Waters could have recorded in Richmond, he took the time to drive to Farmville every Saturday.

Waters was dedicated to the genre of beach music. He hosted beach music festivals in Richmond that drew upwards of 20,000 people, according to his obituary. He was known to give money to charities with the money from the concerts and from his shows.

His love for beach tunes was contagious. Despite the changing trends in music, it was hard not to love Waters’ show.

Friends of Waters say that he had little interest in music other than beach music, and strove to keep people listening to the genre.

Those who knew him rave about his compassionate nature and efforts to raise money for folks who needed it.

Waters was a joy to those around him, and he spread that joy through his music and antics.

Our community has been truly fortunate to have known someone with such passion. He was someone who would sit and share trivia about musicians and seemed to know just about everything about beach music, Wood said.

Waters changed the beach music scene by mixing in Motown soul sounds into his beach station, according to Wood. He incorporated Al Green and the Temptations into his shows. He’d also play songs by Sam and Dave, The Catalinas and The Embers.

Those who tuned in got to escape the stresses of life and go to the beach for just a few hours.

A slightly changed lyric from The Embers says it best: Waters loved beach music. He always has and always will.

CARSON REEHER is a staff writer for The Farmville Herald. Her email address is carson.reeher@farmvilleherald.com.