Memorial by Art Vuolo, Jr.
Where have all the good ones gone?
For those if us of a certain age the question is where have all the good ones gone? The radio industry is seemingly losing a great deal of the the truly great talents and worst of all there doesn't seem to be a plethora of great NEW talents lined up to replace them.
Now, we have lost another and this one further proves that life is truly unfair. Mike Fezzey, former WJR vice-president and general manager, is dead at the young age of only 58. I was down in Florida visiting friends and listening to WJR via the Internet on my iPhone when I heard news director Dick Haefner break the sad news that Fezzey, while himself on business in Naples, Florida, suffered a fatal heart attack the day before he was to return to Michigan.
It was Mike Fezzey who brought Michigan State sports back to the Great Voice of the Great Lakes and in July 1996 hired Paul. W. Smith as the best choice to succeed the late J P McCarthy. Each morning Smith starts his show with the phrase "each day is a gift" and when something like this happens, one is keenly aware of the true meaning of that statement. Paul is understandably devastated by this news and did a beautiful on-air commentary about Mr. Fezzey on a rare Saturday morning remote broadcast over WJR.
Mike was a WJR lifer working is way up from an account executive to sales a manager to the top position at the station. He was very community-minded, working with several local charities and non-profit organizations. He was simply the best!
After a run of well over thirty years at the radio station, he switched hats in 2011 to become President of Huntington Bank's Eastern 'Michigan Region. He was in Florida recruiting new business when he died. My personal relationship with him was via the popular WJR Michigan RADIOGUIDES which were published, with his support, over three decades! I will miss him.
A statement from Huntington Bank stated, "Mike was an extraordinary member of the Huntington family who was highly committed to the Detroit area, making it a growing and vibrant community."
He was also a very spiritual man, so we know he's in a good place right now.
As word spread, messages of shock and disbelief are pouring in from people inside and outside of the radio industry about this profound loss. Even though Mike had left the business on a day to day basis, his heart was always in radio and now it has stopped FAR too soon.
Debbie Kenyon, market manager for CBS Radio's six radio stations in Detroit, reflected, "Mike was a leader in our industry for years. He was an inspiration to many in the way he transcended his career. He will be sorely missed by all of us."
Michael D. Fezzey is survived by his wife Suzy and their three grown children.
Contact Art Vuolo, Jr. via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org