Just a phone call away: “Without Vassar, and specifically the English department, I might never have found my way into the music business.”

Ron Shapiro ’86

Ron Shapiro writes that, like many fathers of English majors, his was “proud to see me graduate, but he was convinced that I would have no success supporting myself with only an undergraduate degree in English.” Then Ron made that fateful phone call:

“Hoping for a career in music or television, I moved to Los Angeles two days after graduation, and answered an ad in the UCLA Daily Bruin seeking English or Public Relations majors. I had no idea what a Public Relations major was, but I called the number hoping that I’d get an interview. The lady with a heavy Texan accent at the other end of the phone literally squealed in delight when I said I was a Vassar English major—she said, ‘young people can’t write or speak properly anymore, but that can’t be the case with a Vassar graduate,’ and with that declaration, she asked me to hurry over to interview for the job. As it turns out, she was Elton John’s press agent, and she hired me to tour North America with her…I went on to work with her for two years doing publicity for many great music artists in addition to Elton John, including Roy Orbison.”

The rest is (music world) history. Next came public relations jobs at MCA Records and Atlantic Records, the latter where Ron became the only executive in the music industry to rise from publicity to President at a single record company. At Atlantic, he signed and/or developed a wide array of recording artists, from Jewel to Brandy to Duncan Sheik, while working with legends such as Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins, Bette Midler, and so many more. Today, married and with two children, Ron lives in Manhattan where his talent management firm represents recording artists and actors (notably Warner Bros artist Regina Spektor; and his publicity company represents recording artists from Bob Seger and Frankie Valli to Vanessa Carlton).