Radio host Bev Johnson confirmed to WREG that Bobby O’Jay, known as the king of Memphis radio, the program director and morning DJ host of the “Fun Morning Show” at IHeartMedia’s WDIA passed away while he was at work. When O’Jay should have opened the phone line at 9 a.m., the radio station was only playing music.
One of Memphis’ most celebrated radio personalities, DJ Bobby O’Jay, died at age 68 on Tuesday morning.
Bobby O’Jay, known as the King of Memphis radio, has passed away. https://t.co/BuPZi49jr3
— FOX13 Memphis (@FOX13Memphis) May 4, 2022
O’Jay has been with WDIA since 1983, and this year marks his 39th year on the job. In May 2021, Action News 5 spoke with O’Jay about his legacy.
Wanda Thomas, O’Jay’s niece, spoke with WREG first and said the family is in disbelief.
“We’re doing as well as can be expected,” Thomas remarked. “You know, we just listened to him this morning, and he sounded like the picture of health. It’s a process.”
O’Jay was born in Batesville, Mississippi, in 1953, and began his radio career in Montgomery, Alabama, before joining WDIA in Memphis in 1983.
O’Jay was the youngest brother of a family of nine brothers and sisters, according to Thomas.
“He was our ‘when I grow up, I want to be just like him.’ He was a celebrity in our town,” Thomas added. “Our chain has definitely been broken. My fond memories are what’s going to keep us, get us through this time.”
In a press statement issued in 2018, WDIA stated:
“Bobby O’Jay, the station’s program director and on-air personality, is the man behind the station’s success as the city’s top-rated morning drive program.”
In 2021, O’Jay was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame and nominated for the National Radio Hall of Fame. He was also known as the “King of Memphis radio.” In 2018, he was also awarded by iHeartMedia Memphis.
In a tweet, Mayor Jim Strickland said:
I’m very sorry to learn about the passing of Bobby O’Jay. I know for many Memphians, including my wife, the day was not complete unless they tuned in to hear what Bobby had to say. I always enjoyed being with Bobby on his show or otherwise. pic.twitter.com/DoZ0sl9QNg
— Mayor Jim Strickland (@MayorMemphis) May 3, 2022