Posted: 1:59 am Thursday, December 13th, 2012
By Jamie Dupree
One of my best friends in radio is signing off the air this week, as Jim Turner, host of the WDBO-FM morning show in Orlando is hanging up his radio cleats, more than ready to hop in his pickup truck and quickly drive his way into retirement.
“I’ve been trying to retire for the last couple of years,” Turner likes to say with a big smile.
Jim will be missed by many in the Central Florida area who have been listening to him since he arrived at WDBO in 1972; Turner spent 13 years doing the afternoon drive show and then took over mornings in 1985, and has been there ever since.
Our company, Cox Media Group, bought WDBO in 1996, and I have been on the air with Jim for the past 16 years, bringing news of Washington, D.C. and national politics and developing a great working relationship and friendship along the way.
As Jim’s last day on the air approaches, and as I read more and more about his life and career, the more I shake my head at some of the similarities in how we got into the radio business.
Our affinity for radio developed in much the same manner – growing up in Pennsylvania, Jim got a short-wave radio at age 10 as a gift from his grandmother. I bought my short-wave radio when I was 13 with money from my paper route in Detroit. That radio opened our eyes to the world – and to the world of radio beyond.
“I was always fascinated by radio,” Turner noted, saying something that I could also say.
Four years after getting his short-wave radio, Jim took the next step and got his amateur radio license.
Oddly enough, it also only took me four years after that first short-wave radio purchase to get my ham radio license, too.
The interest in radio led to the idea of pursuing a job in that business; Jim and I both dabbled some in television before ending up in radio. He spun records at times, and so did I.
About six years ago, we accidentally found out we shared that amateur radio hobby, though Jim had packed away his radios years earlier; after a bit of prodding by me, he finally opened those boxes and got himself back on the air, outside of WDBO.
There were some Sunday mornings when if you knew where to tune the radio, you could hear Jim and I talking on the amateur radio bands, just sounding like two guys who were long time friends.
When I would come down to visit WDBO in Orlando, instead of talking shop, Jim and I would talk ham radio. Instead of talking politics, we would talk about how he was getting his antennas up in his back yard.
The magic of radio is still there for both of us, though I still have a ways to go to catch Turner’s 40+ years at WDBO.
I should note that I tried to talk Jim out of retiring on a couple of occasions in recent years, but our last few times together have been punctuated by Turner firmly telling me that he’s going to stay home with his wife and enjoy retirement.
As for our wives, Jim and I both met our wives at work – they share the same first name as well – just one more thing we have in common.
I’ve always thought that Jim and I have been a good team twice every morning – he’s the well versed, at-times-grumpy-father-figure guy who gets a kick out of my excessive work habits and the wacky politicians I chase after on a daily basis.
And every time I play the role of the kid who tries to throw him a curve ball live on the air – he is more than ready.
“Thanks for inviting me over for Thanksgiving,” I said last month on the air, both of us knowing full well I wasn’t anywhere near his house at the time.
“Hope you enjoyed the Tofu Turkey,” he said with a big laugh, probably leaving listeners to wonder what we were really doing on Thanksgiving.
A few years ago during one of my Orlando visits, Jim and I headed down the road for some food at a local breakfast joint.
When I got back to the station, people were waiting for me in the news room.
“Jim never goes to breakfast with anyone,” they said in almost shocked and hushed tones.
I guess I was one of the lucky few.
Jim and I have been able to watch some wacky news stuff through the years together, from the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the 2000 Florida vote fight, the last few elections and much, much more in between.
And twice every morning, I’ve been able to chat with a Florida broadcasting legend.
It’s not crazy to say that many kids have grown up and had kids while listening to Jim Turner in Orlando on WDBO.
I’m sorry I won’t be there for your last day on the air, Jim – but I’m sure your many friends and colleagues from years past will be on hand.
So, thanks for the great memories for our listeners in Central Florida.
And as we say in amateur radio, see you down the log, Jim.