by Bill Keeler

There was sad news in the local radio world on Monday as word spread that Jim 'JR' Reitz had passed away at the age of 66. Jim was working in New Bedford and Boston recently and news reports say he passed away on Monday morning at his home in New Bedford.

Jim, a Dolgeville native, was legendary in the Utica-Rome radio scene. He spent the early part of his career on WTLB-AM when the station was one of the big Top-40 stations in Utica. He later helped launch Rock 107 at 107.3 FM in Washington Mills in the early 1980's when he served as Program Director and Afternoon Drive host on the FM Top-40 station.  "Good Night, JR," was his legendary sign-off each night, a benchmark voiced by a female who went out of her way to sound sexy.

I met Jim in 1989 when I started as host of the 'Rock 107 Morning Crew' and he was my first boss as a morning radio personality. Jim understood the formatics of radio. For someone who enjoyed pushing the limits like I did, he was good for me as he stressed the importance of staying true to the basics. Jim would sit down with me every week to go over my air check tape and critique my breaks. He understood that 'funny' was subjective and he was always constructive and respectful; even though there were times that (if I'm honest with myself) I probably missed the humor-mark by a mile.

After losing my job at Rock 107 in 1992, I remained close to Jim. He was always someone who offered advice to me in my career and always delivered support. He went on to do mornings at Fun 107 in New Bedford at the same time I was doing mornings in Providence. For a brief time in 2017, he came back to work in the area at Lite 987, which is located in the same building as my current station, WIBX. Even after so many years, he was still one of the hardest working and most dedicated people I knew in the radio industry.

Most recently, Jim was working in New Bedford, MA at FUN 107 and AM news station WBSM. He had also worked part time on a Boston radio station and just recently started doing mornings again at a radio station in Plymouth, MA, according to a story on FUN107.com.

The news of Jim's death was shocking for me and everyone working at Townsquare Media in Utica. I was just thinking about him the other day and had plans to catch up with him before the holidays. Sadly, that meeting never happened.

The photo included in this story is quite emotional for me as it completely depicts an encounter with JR. He would cross his arms, offer up half a smile and make complete eye contact as he listened intently. His specialty was listening. He didn't always agree; but he would hear you out and that's what separated him from so many others.

Radio lost a teacher yesterday. Jim 'JR' Reitz will be greatly missed.