Joining a Lakeland High School service club was the first step toward getting on the radio for Howard Ellis. As a member of the school’s Interact Club, he learned what a deejay does by playing the top songs of the day and discussing school topics on the club’s WONN Saturday night radio program, “Interact Presents.”
That experience led to a part-time position on WONN (as 'Happy Howard') in 1960 and a weekend stint with sister station WSLC in Clermont in 1962. Two years later, he was doing weekends and fill-in work at WWAB across town before heading off to FSU to earn his Bachelor’s Degree, and more on-air work at WTAL in Tallahassee, where he eventually became PD.
In late 1969, Ellis moved to the Tampa Bay area. Radio continued to be his safety net through his early career, working nights and weekends at WFLA while struggling to establish an advertising agency with two partners in the mid 1970’s. The company enjoyed rapid growth and was sold to a national firm in 1987. He remained with the agency until 2002, managing the Tampa office, and then retired to Lakeland.
In early 2009, Howard made an unexpected move and came out of retirement to start a new business – a Lakeland branch of ComForcare Senior Services, an international company providing non-medical home health assistance to the elderly. Today (2010), he employs eight people, including six caregivers, who help elderly clients maintain their lifestyles.
1960 - 1964 WONN (On Air Personality)