Happy 50th Anniversary Jim Scott!
On this date in history: DJ Jim Scott arrived in Cincinnati to take a job at WSAI-AM on March 23, 1968.
"I drove down from Buffalo in a snow storm that dumped eight inches of snow on Cincinnati. I got about halfway down the state of Ohio, and ran into horrible weather," Scott says.
How fitting. The morning radio host who read school snow closings for six decades was greeted by a paralyzing snow.
It was the beginning of a 50-year love affair with the Queen City. Well, technically 49 years since he spent 1972-73 as afternoon host in New York City's WNBC-AM, working with Don Imus and Murray the K.
Longtime friend and mentor George Burns, his former program director in Binghamton, NY; York, PA; and at WSAI-AM, had recommended him for NBC's radio flagship station.
"NBC called him and asked if he had any recommendations for an afternoon man to balance Imus in the morning. So I went up to New York," Scott says.
A year later, he came back to Cincinnati. For good.
Scott was heard here on WSAI-AM, YES95, WINK94.1 and WLW-AM until he retired in 2015. I was at Reds' spring training when I learned "Good Old Jim Scott" planned to make a "big announcement." I knew that meant he was retiring, so I called him and explained that I was in Arizona.
His response? "You want me to wait a day?"
Until he retired, Scott would read school closings and delays, even though the information was available online, in texts, and on TV.
"My audience grew up hearing me read school closings when they were kids," Scott once told me. "They tell me they find a comfort in hearing me read the school closing list. It reminds them of their childhood, when they listened to hear whether their school was closed."
At least once some kid, claiming to be a school official, scammed Scott by calling WSAI and announcing that Campbell County schools were closed. School leaders quickly called, but didn't want him to correct the mistake. "They said, 'If Jim Scott says we're closed, then we’re closed,' " he told me with a laugh.
In 2013, I convened a panel of local broadcasters to name the "Top 40 Radio Personalities Of The Last 40 Years." Good Old Jim Scott was No.1, followed by 2. Gary Burbank; 3. Marty & Joe; 4. Robin Wood; 5. Jerry Thomas; 6. Bill Cunningham; 7. Lincoln Ware; 8. Bob Trumpy; 9. Jim LaBarbara; 10. Mike McConnell. (I'd put a link to the photo gallery, but it's no longer on the web.)
Scott worked hard at becoming the area's most popular personality. He went door-to-door in neighborhoods to meet potential listeners. He drove an old three-wheel U.S. mail truck in parades.
He's a very active volunteer for the Salvation Army, Hoxworth Blood Center, and WCET-TV's Action Auction, not just a guy who lends his voice to the promos. His civic involvement extended to organizing a celebrity basketball game at old Cincinnati Gardens with a team from Russia, and once owning part of a local pro soccer team.
On Opening Day, you'll see Scott again walking with folks from Kroger, one of his longtime clients. He still goes in to WLW-AM twice a month from his home near Perfect North Slopes outside of Lawrenceburg to record commercials for Kroger, Bud Herbert Motors, Cooper Electric, Key Bank, and others.
Whenever he arrives for an event – or just lunch with me – he still introduces himself to everyone, as if he'd arrived from Buffalo.
It seems like yesterday to Jim Scott.
"Fifty years have gone by like, Wham! It's amazing. I've been lucky, John. I've had a great time."