Graphics design and interview presentation by Dick Bourne.


Photos from the personal collection of Rich Landrum.


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling boasted a roster of arguably the greatest wrestling talent in the country. The Crockett family had a legitimate claim as promoting the country’s top promotion. Through early 1981, it also had in most eyes the most imaginative and successful booker, George Scott. And through that time period in the latter years of the territorial days of professional wrestling, the weekly television shows in many ways defined a wrestling promotion, and certainly drove the finished product. In the Mid-Atlantic area, we as fans were blessed to have television announcers that were as high a caliber as any other facet of the promotion. Rich Landrum distinguished himself in that capacity, and was the recognized face and voice of Crockett’s World Wide Wrestling television show. A show that no true Mid-Atlantic fan dared missed on any Saturday!


Rich Landrum holds a doubly special place in the hearts of Richmond, Virginia area wrestling fans. Rich was the ring announcer for live shows in Richmond and vicinity from the early 1970s through the early 1980s. Richmond was fortunate to have some of the greatest cards anywhere in the world during that time period. Rich Landrum was there every Friday night, and was an integral part of an atmosphere that was electric and led to countless memorable cards and bouts for Richmond area fans.


During our recent discussion, Rich talks about his start in broadcasting and how it led him into the world of professional wrestling, starting as the Richmond ring announcer. From there, we learn how Rich went from ring announcing, to a Crockett television announcer. And then, we get a true insider look at the World Wide Wrestling television show, which Rich hosted from 1978 through early 1982. You will hear it all from Rich, from sobering reflections about wrestlers who had far rougher times than what we saw in the ring, to hilarious stories about others that will have you laughing until you cry!


Rich also talks candidly about his departure from Jim Crockett Promotions in 1982, and we hear about what Rich has been doing since that time, which runs the gamut from some very difficult times to some incredible highs. For instance, how many of you knew that Rich announced for the WWF for about a year after finishing with Crockett? There’s that, and a whole lot more that Rich will tell us about regarding his life after Jim Crockett Promotions. Including, for the last year or so, Rich’s getting back into the wrestling business again…at least to a degree!


Rich, with your perfect mesh of exuberance and tempered professionalism, you made Friday nights so special for Richmonders with your announcing…and you carried those same traits onto a bigger stage on the World Wide Wrestling set for the whole Mid-Atlantic area to see. Then, the rest of the territory saw what we in Richmond already knew…that you had the unique gift and skill of enhancing a Jim Crockett Promotions wrestling show into something more than it would have been otherwise, never drawing attention to yourself in the process. But, Rich, your contributions to Jim Crockett Promotions were significant, did not go unnoticed, and are admired and appreciated to this day. To so many of us you are, and will always be, “The Voice” of professional wrestling in Richmond…and the World Wide Wrestling area.


- David Chappell              


David Chappell: Rich, many thanks for doing this interview today, and for your continued support of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. It’s great to have you in the Gateway this afternoon!


Rich Landrum: I’ve enjoyed your site, David. It’s always fun going on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


I’ve always been skeptical of some wrestling sites, you know? Some things I read, and I go, ‘Where did they get THAT from?’


Chappell: (laughs)


Landrum: I’ll say to myself, ‘THAT, I remember, and NO, it didn’t really happen like that!’


But your site is really good, and has done well. I like all the interviews…and the way it’s presented. You know, it’s done well, and it’s never put anybody in a bad light.


Chappell: I really appreciate those kind words, Rich, I really do.


Well, I guess to start, a lot of fans remember you best for your television announcing on the World Wide Wrestling television show in the late 70s and early 80s.


But fans in the Richmond, Virginia area also have fond memories of you for another reason…you were our ring announcer for many years! Tell us about the path that took you towards doing the ring announcing at the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling cards in and around Richmond.


Landrum: Yeah, David, I started at the State Fairgrounds…


Chappell: And for those not familiar with the Richmond wrestling venues, the State Fairgrounds at Strawberry Hill hosted wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions for MANY years, before the Richmond Arena and before cards regularly began running at the Richmond Coliseum.


The last Crockett card to run at the Fairgrounds was in early 1974.


Landrum: It was kind of funny, because the other night I was trying to figure out what year it was I started…and I had to do it by my grown son’s age! He wasn’t born at that period of time, at least by a year…so it was probably 1971 or 1972.


Chappell: That certainly sounds right.


Landrum: At the time, I was working for Channel 8, WXEX TV, which is now WRIC. Then, the station was in Petersburg, Virginia, although I lived in Richmond. But I had been in broadcasting prior to that.


Chappell: Yes, if you would, go back and tell us how you really started in the broadcasting business. It was actually in radio, right?


Landrum: I started in radio. I started when I was 15 and a half years old. That was at WLEE radio…which was then the number one rock and roll station in Richmond.


Chappell: You better believe it…that was the station I listened to 24/7 in the late 60s and early 70s! Pretty much until FM started to take over.


WLEE…1480 on your AM radio dial!


Landrum: (laughs) Yep…that’s right, ‘Big LEE!’


I was fortunate there, David. I hung around so much they finally had to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to give this kid a chance, at least part-time, doing something because he’s here all the time.’


I was there all the time, when I wasn’t in school.


Chappell: So you weren’t a ‘gym rat,’ you were a ‘radio rat!’


Landrum: (laughs) I was a radio rat! I wanted to go into broadcasting. I knew that…there was no doubt in my mind.


Chappell: At that young age, that’s pretty impressive to have your career already picked out!


Landrum: With my ego, I had to be in broadcasting! So Harvey Hudson, the Dean of disk jockeys of Richmond, took me under his wing and made me his protégé. And I learned from him, and from a lot of other guys in the business at that time.


I never wanted to be a DJ; I always wanted to do the news. And that’s what I started doing. I didn’t have this voice then…everybody thinks that I did. It took a lot of whisky and cigarettes to get this voice!


Chappell: (laughing)


Landrum: I was searching for a voice, and the guy that I really thought had the greatest voice was Tony Marvin.


Chappell: Right, the great CBS radio announcer, who also hosted the Arthur Godfrey radio and TV shows.


Landrum: I was 15 and a half, 16 years old, and I thought, ‘Man, if I had a voice like that, that would be great!’ Of course, I was trying to fake it and it didn’t work…it was too nasal!


Chappell: (laughs) Can’t fault a guy for trying!


Landrum: Yeah, so I started in radio, and stayed in radio for six years. Channel 8 was our sister station at WLEE…


Chappell: That’s right…they were together.


Landrum: Yep, same ownership. So, I started working for Channel 8 on air…


Chappell: Was the working for a television station what got you into wrestling at the outset?


Landrum: At the same time I was at Channel 8, I was also working with an area volunteer rescue squad. A friend of mine there, we were both recently married, was a real wrestling fanatic. I mean, I watched it occasionally, you know…I knew what was going on. But my mother was a real wrestling nut…she’d beat the arm of the chair to death!


Chappell: (laughing)


Landrum: But my friend kept after me, ‘Let’s go to a wrestling show at the Fairgrounds! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!’


Chappell: I take it you gave into him eventually?


Landrum: I said, ‘I tell you what…I’m gonna go but I’m not payin’ to get in.’ He said, ‘Huh?’ And I said, ‘No, I won’t pay to get in…but I’ll get us in.’


Chappell: Through Channel 8?


Landrum: Right. So we went out to the Fairgrounds and walked up to the ticket window, and I told them who I was and I was from Channel 8 television.


They said, ‘Sure, we’ll have some tickets for you.’ So they pulled out some tickets…gave us some. They were like, fifth row, sixth row ringside…place only held maybe 1,000 people at the time.


Chappell: That’s right.


Landrum: So, about 20 minutes before the show was about to start, Joe Murnick came over to me and introduced himself…


Chappell: Joe was the local promoter in Richmond.


Landrum: Yes. He introduced himself, but I knew who he was from TV---I’d seen him. And he said, ‘I understand you’re a TV announcer?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ He said, ‘Well, the guy from Channel 6 that usually does [the ring announcing] didn’t show up tonight…we’ll pay you if you do it.’


Chappell: Interesting…


Landrum: Yeah! I told Joe, ‘Oh really?’ He said, ‘You think you can do it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I can do it.’


So, he takes me up to ringside and sits me down there. I never will forget the manager for the Fairgrounds at the time…he was also the timekeeper as well. I told him, ‘Look, my wife and my friends are sitting way back there…’


Chappell: (laughs) Yeah…you just sort of took off and left them Rich!


Landrum: He said, ‘That’s not a problem.’ He moves everybody off the front row…and sticks my people in their place!


Chappell: (laughing)


Landrum: I go, ‘Whoa…okay!’


Little did I know then, that somebody had to DIE for you to get front row seats!


Chappell: Kind of like Washington Redskins season tickets!


Landrum: Yeah it was…people had ‘em for life.


But anyway, I did the show that night. And I’m trying to remember who was on the card. I think it was Becker and Weaver…and probably Hawk and Hanson.  


Chappell: That’s probably a safe bet!


Landrum: Yeah, probably so…


Chappell: You had watched enough on TV to know who was who…


Landrum: I had seen them enough, and I knew who the headliners were. I didn’t know who was on the undercard that much.


But I did the show, and put a lot of ‘oomph’ into it in my usual way. After it was over and he was paying me…paid me ten bucks. I went, ‘Whoa, ten bucks…big time!’


Chappell: (laughs)


Landrum: He said, ‘You know, you’re pretty good…you come back next week and we’ll keep payin’ you.’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll see.’


So, I kept showing up there…and that’s how I got started. From then on, it just kind of took off.