Buddy (Ralph Beadles Penn) was born in Fulton, KY and moved to Lakeland with his family when he was 4 years old. After high school (and two years of college at Florida Southern), he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Korean War.
From 1959 to 1963, Penn was WONN’s morning drive air personality and worked in the sales department each day after he finished his radio show. He was Lakeland radio’s original Morning Mayor and everybody listened to him. Buddy played country music from 5AM to 7AM, then the station’s regular format from 7 until 9.
Many listeners will remember him playing Reveille Rock by Johnny & the Hurricanes each morning at 6:30 while shouting, “Get up all you 6:30 getter-uppers you.” Early on, his nickname was ‘Lonesome Lem’ (even throwing in a southern accent for the first two hours of his show), but he later dropped the Lem portion of the name, and always referred to the WONN studios as the Rabbit Reservation. Each morning he’d close his show with his usual theme song, Lenny Dee’s Oh Lonesome Me.
In the spring of 1963, Buddy joined a group of key WONN personnel who left to join WYSE, Lakeland’s Top 40 station, which was planning to change its call letters to WWAB. Once there, he would also do the morning shift. He returned to WONN in 1967, left a second time in 1975 and, in the 1980’s, occasionally filled in on a part-time basis.
Penn also called the play-by-play action for Lakeland Dreadnaught football for many years and was a co-owner and founder of The Grove Theater at Grove Park Shopping Center.
On February 5, 2015, Buddy passed away at Lakeland Regional Medical Center at the age of 82.
1959 - 1963 WONN (On Air Personality)
1959 - 1963 WONN (Sales)
1967 - 1975 WONN (On Air Personality)