Longtime local radio personality Tommy Jett dies at 77

Longtime local radio personality Tommy Jett dies at 77

April 25th, 2018 by Barry Courter in Breaking News

In this July 22, 2014, staff file photo, Tommy Jett opens his weekly show on WAAK 94.7 FM with his signature "HEY NOW!" in Ringgold, Ga.

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

This story was updated April 25, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.

Tommy Jett, the man known as "TJ the DJ" to thousands of radio-listening fans, has died at the age of 77. At the time of his death, he was still spinning records, both on the radio and online.

Jett was found at his home by his wife, Charlene, around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, according to Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson.

Tommy Jett promotes the Winter WFLI Spectacular in November 1967 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of David Carrol/Steve Hill)

Tommy Jett promotes the Winter WFLI Spectacular in...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Wilson said Jett was active in charity work, particularly the annual Stocking Full of Love fundraiser, spinning records for the sock hop that was part of the event.

"He would be the emcee during it," Wilson said. "Every Labor Day, he was our guy.

"He will be missed," Wilson said. "That charity. He loved it."

Jett began his career in Chattanooga in 1961 at WFLI-AM 1070. He was on the air somewhere locally for 57 years. He also took his show on the road, playing weddings, dances and parties during that time.

He was known for his big gold glasses, rings on every finger and his trademark "Hey Now!" greeting.

He was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame in 2013.

"I honestly think that one of Tommy's best radio memories was when he was told he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame," said WDEF on-air personality Chip Chapman, a longtime friend of Jett and a Radio Hall of Fame board member.

"He'd had a lot of accolades up to that point, but that seemed to bring him a lot of satisfaction."

Chapman said it was made more special for Jett because the late Luther Masingill and fellow inductee made the announcement and spoke at the induction ceremony on his behalf.

Chapman added, "Tommy loved everybody and I have never met anybody who can honestly say that, but he did."

Jett started the Tommy Jett Entertainers Reunion in 1993 and hosted it annually unless failing health prevented him from doing so.

Evan Kennedy worked with Jett in recent years and said, "He was a fighter. Tommy loved God, first and foremost. But he loved his close personal friends. He believed in having friends. Making new friends. Radio. Music. His family.

"He didn't care how many people were listening at the end. He just loved doing it."

Staff writer Tyler Jett contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.


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