MEMPHIS, Tenn — Legendary Memphis radio icon Bobby O’Jay has passed away.
Tuesday morning, iHeart Radio confirmed the death of O’Jay at age 68. A cause of death has not been released.
A year ago today, ABC24 learned O’Jay was being inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. The WDIA DJ and program director worked in radio for more than 40 years, 38 of them right here in Memphis.
WDIA was the first radio station in the United States programmed entirely for African Americans. The station itself was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.
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.