Bobby O’Jay, a legendary Memphis radio personality, has died.
iHeart Radio announced O’Jay’s death at the age of 68 on Tuesday morning. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
O’Jay was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame a year ago today, according to ABC24. For more than 40 years, the WDIA DJ and program director worked in radio, 38 of them in Memphis.
WDIA was the first radio station in the United States to broadcast only African-American programming. In 2013, the station was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
At the time of his induction into the Hall of Fame, iHeartMedia Memphis and Tupelo Market President Kevin Klein said, “Bobby O’Jay is so deserving of this honor. It makes me so proud that his 38 years of talking to the Memphis community on WDIA are finally recognized. WDIA is a station rich in history and a staple to the Black community. Congrats Bobby for all you have done for Memphis.”
“Bobby O’Jay’s impact on our industry is undeniable,” said iHeartMedia Memphis Senior Vice President of Programming Sue Purnell at the time. “He’s an absolute champion when it comes to our community, and we’re overjoyed to see Bobby join The Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.”
Chuck O’Bannon, Kudzukian Radio and On Air Personality, told ABC 24, “Bobby cared about people. He cared about the artist’s records he played. He broke a lot of records. He was highly respected by all of in the industry whether you were radio, television or whatever. He’s going to be missed and I know a lot of us in the industry looked up to him. It’s a tremendous loss because we’re just going to miss hearing about Bobby OJ.”
“We pray for the family and mourn the passing of radio icon Bobby O’jay. This is not only a loss for us as a city in Memphis, but a loss to all of us in the black community nationally, those of us in black music and radio and those of us who saw him as a mentor. Bobby O’jay is Black Radio history and has forged many spaces that others hadn’t while creating opportunities for many of the success that we’ve seen in both radio and black music. His voice and opinions will truly be missed,” said State Rep. Antonio Parkinson in a statement.
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
Our thoughts and our prayers are with the family and friends of legendary Memphis radio personality Bobby O'Jay, who passed away today. For so many of us, our mornings were not complete without a dose of Bobbyology. He will truly be missed. pic.twitter.com/e9dcDWROfo— Mayor Lee Harris (@MayorLeeHarris) May 3, 2022
Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. offers his deepest condolences to the family and friends of legendary Memphis DJ Bobby O’Jay, who passed away today.— ShelbyTNSheriff (@ShelbyTNSheriff) May 3, 2022
A CHANGE CHAMPION in the 901 and a voice for our community, Bobby O’Jay was a pioneer and @WDIAMemphis talk-radio icon in the Mid-South. Our thoughts are with his @iHeartRadio colleagues, family, and friends. #Legendary #Memphis #WDIAhttps://t.co/LnrOQNwOE9— Dr. Joris M. Ray (@SCSSuptRay) May 3, 2022