Flo `Granny Packer' Ayres

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ... ?

June 16, 2007|By JACQUES KELLY

Baltimoreans recognize Flo Ayres as the woman who created the radio voice of Granny Packer decades ago.

"I'm probably the grande dame of voice-overs," Ayres said the other day as she was on her way to meet with her Web site designers.

"I have to have a project," she said. She is now in the promotion phase of the children's CD she recently completed. Called Do-Zees and Don't-Zees, it is the result of a four-year collaboration with Lon Ephraim, a musician and teacher. In song and dialogue, she tells her audience to put their toys away, eat good foods and don't give up on what you want to do.

"We nitpicked and nitpicked and if I do say, the quality is superb," she says of the effort recorded in Washington, Baltimore and Catonsville studios.

"I see around me a lot of children who are lacking in manners. I feel they not listening to their parents. I wanted to get across in a subtle way how they could do better. I wanted my CD to be so entertaining they don't know they are being taught something," she said.

Although Ayres is known in radio circles for her portrayals of mature voices -- and is much in demand during the political campaign season for radio spots -- she has also worked the juvenile category. Many years ago, she worked with Muppets creator Jim Henson on his Sissy the Skunk.

Born Florence Aaronson, she began using the name Flo Ayres after breaking into radio work in the late 1940s.

"It was just like a B movie," she said of her initial experience in radio, when she showed up unannounced at a studio and took over a role for an established performer who had to stay home with a sick child.

Most any day, you'll find Ayres at her Mount Washington home. She loves to garden, cook and entertain.

"I'm 83 years old and still working in a youth-oriented business," she said.

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