With the untimely passing of Wayne Cannon, ”The voice of ocean city,” and one of the resort’s biggest promoters, a lasting legacy is left
Story by Brian Shane | Photo by Grant L. Gursky
On April 19, the Eastern Shore bid a wistful farewell to one of its favorite sons, Wayne Cannon, who succumbed following a battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 72.
Wayne Cannon was a friend of Coastal Style, and we had the pleasure of collaborating with him on several occasions. In 2019, one of CSM’s contributors, Brian Shane, spent some time with Wayne, swapping stories of the Shore and getting to know more about the life and times of this colorful figure from Delmarva’s history, during a friendly and informal conversation.
We asked Brian to reformat that conversation into a feature article that would serve as a final tribute to a man who would ultimately become as much a part of the fabric of this community as a warm summer breeze on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
We lost you too soon, Wayne. Godspeed.
Did you know that the famous gunslinger Annie Oakley used to live in Cambridge? Or that the West Ocean City boat Lady Grace doubled onscreen as the ill-fated Andrea Gail from the hit movie The Perfect Storm?
You probably did if you follow Wayne Cannon on Facebook.
Cannon has always had a way with words and a passion for journalism. The Delmar, MD, native parlayed his abilities and interests into a successful four-decade career on Delmarva as a popular radio personality, and today, although semiretired, he loves to share Eastern Shore tall tales and facts with friends on social media as if it were a full-time job.
Then and now, Wayne Cannon likes an audience. As a kid growing up in the 1950s, Wayne loved to listen to his favorite radio announcers — like Joey Reynolds of WKBW in Buffalo, Dick Biondi on WLS in Chicago, Cousin Brucie at WABC in New York — and decided he would follow in their footsteps.
His first journalism experience came in 1967, covering a demonstration in Washington, DC, where a reported 100,000 antiwar protesters marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Pentagon.
After enlisting in the Army in 1969, Cannon spent two and a half years in Germany as part of the NATO forces. He wanted to be a radio announcer, but that slot was filled. Instead, the Army needed field medics, so that became his job.
After returning stateside, he landed a job in 1976 at WETT-AM in Ocean City, a small station where he was able to wear many hats. During any given air shift, Wayne could play you a song, offer news updates and sports scores or even interview up-and-coming politicians.
Over the years, Wayne realized how much he enjoyed promoting Ocean City. He now boasts a long résumé of public service with myriad local civic groups, including a stint as president of the chamber of commerce, and he has taken home several citizen-of-the-year-type honors along the way.
In that vein, Wayne is also the Lower Shore’s longstanding go-to guy for master of ceremonies. You may have heard him emcee the old Baltimore Colts Corral parades, Berlin’s Christmas parade, the Ocean City St. Patrick’s Parade and more.
His broadcast career is officially over now, but you can still hear his occasional on-air contribution on WGMD-FM, the news station that most recently employed him. In retirement, Wayne and his wife, Chris, enjoy food and wine, travel and reminiscing with friends at the Marlin Club. You can also find Wayne (although he’ll find you first) as the host/greeter at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club.
“The host of a restaurant sets the tone of the customers visit. In other words, you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression,” Wayne said.
“I’ve been called the voice of Ocean City,” he continued, “and that’s always a neat thing, because I used my career to promote the town. Ocean City’s been very, very good to me. I’m a happy man… in life, career-wise, I’ve done everything I wanted to do.”