column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.
Frankly I'm getting tired of losing so many friends in radio. It's is one of the worst parts about getting older. James R. Marik, best known to radio people, as J. R. Nelson, was not a close friend, but we've known each other since first meeting in 1983 at this new station in the swampy Meadowlands of New Jersey. It was a Newark station called WVNJ at 100.3 FM, that had just undergone a complete makeover by Scott Shannon. It was now WHTZ Newark, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut's Hot Rockin', Flame-throwin' Z-100! I was there on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1983, less than four months after the station signed on back on August 2nd. I even brought the legendary Joey Reynolds (now at WOR NYC) who Scott Shannon allowed to audition (on the air) for a job. It made for a great, and now priceless video. J. R. Nelson was part of that original staff. The video of him and Ross Brittain and Jonathan Bell (who's still at Z-100) all singing "Shout" by the Isley Brothers is still vivid in my mind.
J. R. Nelson died yesterday, February 16th from, what his partner Sue Peters felt was a heart attack. The Oak Harbor, OH native was only 60, and would have been 61 next month. He was going to lay down for a nap and fell on the bed. He had also been battling from bladder cancer. In recent years J. R. has been in Detroit as Director of Imaging and Creative Services at country WYCD-FM (99.5) and later at classic hits WOMC-FM (104.3) both owned by CBS Radio. He and Sue shared a home in Rochester Hills, in suburban Detroit.
J. R. Nelson had one of the best sets of pipes in the business. A distinctive voice that was immediately recognizable. He...and it, will surely be missed. I know that I will certainly be sending a DVD of that November 1983 video to Sue Peters. It may make her cry, but I know it will also make her smile.
Rest in peace JRN...you were among the best.