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Tampa radio personality Tedd Webb says he is entering hospice

The 72-year-old announced that Friday is his last day on dialysis.
Retired radio personality Tedd Webb says he will be entering a hospice house.
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
Retired radio personality Tedd Webb says he will be entering a hospice house. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published Mar. 24
Updated Mar. 30

TAMPA — Retired radio personality Tedd Webb – who for over 50 years entertained, educated, informed and infuriated Tampa listeners – says he is dying.

Related: Update: Tampa radio personality Tedd Webb dies at 72

The 72-year-old, who has battled diabetes for decades, announced on Facebook that Friday is his last day on dialysis.

Webb, whose real name is Henry Ruiz, said he will then enter a hospice house.

He could die within one week, Webb told the Tampa Bay Times on Facebook messenger. “My kidneys are 100 percent down. They don’t work. You can’t live without kidneys. I’m at peace with God. My family has given me the green light.”

Webb also had a quadruple bypass operation in 1999 and since has struggled with congestive heart failure. His son Lee Ruiz wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that Webb also has dementia.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for him to make,” Ruiz wrote, “and obviously no one wants to lose him, but there’s only so much one person can endure.”

NewsRadio 970 WFLA’s morning talk program AM Tampa Bay, which Webb co-hosted from 1994 until retirement in 2017, will be dedicated to him on Thursday.

“I want people who Tedd has impacted to call in and let Tedd know what he means to you,” said AM Tampa Bay co-host Aaron Jacobson who worked alongside Webb for eight years. “We hope he will be listening. Tell him how much you love him.”

When asked what Webb means to him, Jacobson sobbed for a few moments and then said, “Tedd is like a father to me.”

Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco will make a motion at Thursday’s meeting to honor Webb with a street sign. There have been discussions to put it on Gandy Blvd. near the radio station, but Maniscalco said “it’s not a city road so it would be complicated and tricky.”

Perhaps Webb’s native West Tampa “makes the most sense,” Maniscalco said.

“He is a Tampa treasure who is known to several generations and thousands of people with his booming radio voice that folks have listened to for over half a century.”

AM Tampa Bay co-host Jack Harris said he used to joke that he wanted to outlive Webb, with whom he worked for 25 years, “because I have so many great stories to tell at his funeral. I didn’t really want to have to tell those stories, especially now. This is heartbreaking.”

Still, he said with a laugh, he does have some “good ones to share.”

There was the time Webb threatened to beat up call-in guest Ron Reagan Jr. after he claimed his father was making presidential decisions while battling Alzheimer’s.

“I thought they were going to meet in the parking lot,” Harris said.

Webb once told the Times that one of his favorite radio moments occurred on April Fools’ Day 1976 when he pretended to be a fan who stabbed a station employee for refusing to play a hard rock song. Listeners called 911 and police responded.

Radio personality Tedd Webb, left, talks with Jack Harris, right, during a break in a broadcast in 2017. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]
Radio personality Tedd Webb, left, talks with Jack Harris, right, during a break in a broadcast in 2017. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

Webb broke into radio at 14 when he was still known by his birth name.

Radio station WALT-AM 1110 was having an audition for a weekend disc jockey and Webb, then an aspiring lead vocalist in rock bands, figured it was an easy way to earn money for a car.

He did not get the job. But a few months later, he was hired by WALT as a correspondent covering sports at Jesuit High School, where he was a student.

The Tedd Webb name was born in February 1969 when he was hired as a morning DJ for WCWR in Clearwater. Station management randomly gave him the choice of three aliases — Ricky Robbins, Danny Miller or Ted Webb.

“I chose Ted, added a second d to balance it out, and that’s it,” he once told the Times.

He would go on to become a morning DJ for stations featuring country, classic rock, hard rock and oldies before moving into talk radio in 1980 and becoming a voice of right-wing politics despite coming from a liberal family.

Webb once told the Times that his conservative opinions so infuriated his family that when a false rumor spread that he would run for the Florida House and he asked his sister if she’d support him, she said no.

Off the air, he remained a unique character who worked as a professional wrestling manager and referee, authored the book Butt of Course, which is a collection of his photographs that he once described as celebrating “the female form,” and owned the patent for a hand-held whoopee cushion called the “Fart Bag” that he enjoyed using to embarrass friends.

“The two of us are in the elevator going to the press box at the Outback Bowl,” Harris said. “Teddy gives me a look and I know what is going to happen. He squeezed that thing and then scowled at me until everyone looked at me.”

Harris laughed that someone stopped the elevator, and everyone hurried off.

“That’s just who he is – he is all about having a good time and making people laugh,” said Tony Garcia, who performed with Webb in the West Tampa Four singing group. “His radio motto is ‘Live it up’ and he has lived it up every day of his life.”

Since announcing on Monday that he would enter hospice, more than 1,000 friends and fans have taken to Facebook to wish him well and share memories.

“I spent Tuesday morning crying reading the posts,” Webb told the Times. “Thanks for the love and support.”