J. R. Nelson signs off from Detroit

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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.


Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com



I was so sorry to hear of Jim's passing this morning. Jim and I met when we were both in High school, two kids who wanted to be in radio. He had the pipes for it right from his early teen days,,and he looked about four years older than most of the guys our age so he was the one we sent in to buy beer when we were all 16. He got his first break in radio about 1964 or 65 at WRWR in Port Clinton, Ohio a little fm station then moved to WFOB in Fostoria and finally joined me when we both worked on a Malright station, WTTF in Tiffin, Ohio. It was the only rural Malwright station in the chanin, ever. As with radio, we crossed paths again at WAWR, Bowling Green-Toledo, Ohio and again at WTTO in Toledo. Jim and I and another engineer all ended up as room mates in college he working WTTO as morning man, I was at WAWR evenings and going to school and the third guy Dennis Rutherford at WMGS all in the Toledo market.

Jim was a real hard start in the morning and had the over night guy at TTO call him about 4am to get him up for work. Dennis bought a clapper, the thing that turns the lights off and on when you clap your hands? Well it worked for other sounds too. Jim slept on the livingroom couch since he got up first. I'll never forget the morning I was crossing the livingroom when the wakeup call came in,,,the clapper immediently turned on all the lights and Jim sat up. Ofcourse the next ring and it shut the lights off!! and Jim laid down. I wondered how long this would go on before he would wake up so I stood and watched. So help me I'm not lieing, he went though these calistetics for 6 minutes!!!

He and I had a falling out for a few years and that's when he ended up in NY at Z100 with Micheal Scott Shannon puting together the morning zoo. Later he came back to Cleveland and walked into the station I was working at the time. Since then we kept in touch and when I started my own station in Sandusky, Ohio he did my liners for the last few years I woned it.

I knew something was wrong when you couldn't find him on line the last few years. I was talking with Scott and he told me about Jims problems with cancer, drugs heart etc. When Jim surfaced on the net I wrote him and we began cooresponding again until things broke off and I didn't hear from him about nine months ago. The last time we talked he said he couldn't continue doing voice work because the cemo had effected his voice.

This was a guy who was so talented he could walk into a room and pickup any instrament and play it within five minutes. He was a great free hand artist too. I used to use him to draw my graphics for my TV production classes in college.

I understand he was very prolific on the liners etc in the UK alot of people discussed him a few years back on the UK boards.

He certainly will be missed...see ya later buddy..

I'd love to have one of those DVDs






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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on February 17, 2010 7:15 AM.

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