Radio mogul Barry Lunderville, well known for his ownership of WLTN 96.7 radio in Littleton and KISS 102.3 in Lancaster, is remembered by those who knew him best. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
November 07, 2018LANCASTER — "I'll let you do a story on me when I'm taking my 'dirt nap,'" said Barry Lunderville to us many times over the past few years.
This is an article that was intended to be written for Lunderville to read. Something to add to his pile of accolades for a job well done. Lunderville was more than just that voice on the radio. To those that knew him well, his passing will forever leave a gaping hole, fortunately filled with many fond memories.
The radio mogul led an extraordinary and interesting life that came to an end after a well lived 68 years. His voice was unmistakable over the airwaves, loud, confident, crisp and classic.
Lunderville was known to many as the owner of the Radio New England Broadcast Group, WLTN 96.7 and KISS 102.3 in Littleton and Lancaster respectively.
He was a native of Littleton, and had been in the broadcasting business for over fifty years. Thirty of those years were spent in Boston at various stations including WJIB, WEEI, and WHDH. He produced and hosted Syndicated programs, before returning to the North Country in 1998, to build 'Kiss 102.3-FM' with his son Brian. Some of Lunderville's favorite stories to tell, were about his time as a news anchor for CBS in Boston.
In 2002, father and son bought WLTN in Littleton and WMOU in Berlin a year later. The two also designed, engineered and built WOTX-FM 'The Outlaw' in 2007. In 2011 WSSH-FM, 'Wish Country' signed on in Lisbon/Littleton.
Lunderville began his radio career when he was just 15 in Littleton. He hosted a teen show on WLTN. We like to think while sitting in that studio all those years ago that he knew he would own it one day.
When you would walk into the KISS studio in Lancaster, you were always greeted by old antique microphones, chords, soundboards, electronic radio gadgets, stacks of paper and an always willing to 'shoot the breeze' Lunderville.
He always knew what was going on in Lancaster, but especially enjoyed the politics that Littleton always seems to have plenty of. This wasn't a bad thing, of course according to Lunderville. When he spoke of others, you could be sure he integrated his impersonation of them into the conversation instead of just getting a boring rendition. Nothing was ever boring with him, even in his final days. He was especially excited about this upcoming election season and always made it well known who he supported.
Lunderville loved talking about the 1950's. Nostalgia was important to him especially in regards to growing up in Littleton. He was an avid skier and during an old interview he talked about being a kid growing up skiing on Mt. Eustis.
Lunderville said "We would ski there every day after school, and ski home at dusk in the tracks formed on top of the snowbanks stretching from George Pepperell's farmhouse to the intersection of Cottage Street. We would look both ways for oncoming cars, then traipse across the street, and continue on top of the snowbanks on the other side."
He continued, "Ski's back then were either all wood, or some had the newly developed interlocking steel edges. One could only dream of taking the blue ribbon in either Slalom or Giant Slalom but it was never me. It is the memory of those halcyon days at Mt. Eustis, at age seven, eight, nine, and 10, that bring us gratitude to Dave Harkless, Ron Lahout and others for recreating the opportunity for the kids and the tradition."
Lunderville also had a unique sense of humor. He was quick witted, sarcastic and downright hilarious. One of his favorites was to say 'Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?' when talking to someone who was going through some sort of misfortune.
During a company lunch at a Thai restaurant, Lunderville began perusing the menu with a serious look on his face then asked the waitress 'Where's the real menu?' His favorite place to eat in Littleton was the Topic of Town. To Lunderville, there was nothing better than a simple egg salad sandwich and a glass of milk. He would constantly become frustrated with cell phones, and ask, "How do you work this dang thing and why are the buttons so small, it's like you need a toothpick to make a phone call."
He was extremely generous to those close to him, especially the youngsters. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and always bragged about the great things they were up to. He took care of his employees and never let anyone go without. Lunderville taught his craft to each person that worked for him and made sure you were in fact, perfect. If you weren't perfect, you were dubbed a 'pedestrian' endearingly.
Lunderville also has a daughter Amy who lives in Massachusetts and works as a graphic design artist.
Traffic manger Danielle MacNevins, whom Lunderville considered a second daughter was taught how to change her voice while doing various commercials. Her voice is disguised like an expert, of course she had the best teacher.
One of Lunderville's tasks each day was to get 'sound' for the daily news.
One of his favorite people to talk to was Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, who recalled that "Barry did a great job in a declining radio market. I thought the world of Barry Lunderville. He was able to keep the stations in service when there was little financial support coming in. He always made a commitment to me that he would keep Berlin sports on the radio and he always honored this. He and I got along very well. He was a great guy and will really be missed."
Grenier continued, "He was an old school guy and an old school businessman. A handshake was your word and that really is part of the big problem today."
Angel Larcom of Bethlehem, a former employee of Lunderville's, commented on his wit, saying "Barry loved nothing more than witty dialogue and some of my fondest memories are of our long conversations. An eight hour lunch was common. He appreciated frankness, and when he was delighted he would burst out in laughter, grinning from ear to ear. I will never forget those conversations or that laugh."
Brian Lunderville will carry on his father's legacy and will run the stations along with MacNevins.
"My father was a great man, he helped anyone anyway he could," Brian said. "He taught me everything he knew over the years and I will use that as fuel to carry on and keep these stations running smoothly."
Longtime DJ at WLTN Phil Rivera said, "He was passionate with radio and truly loved his craft. It was his calling. He shared and taught me many things I will never forget. Radio was his life. I will miss his 'dulcet' tones as he would say."