We lost big part of our radio station this past Thanksgiving Day. A piece of every one of us was lost when we heard that Eugene Hardin, otherwise known on air as J.J. West, had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  He was 59.

I had worked with J.J. for over 24 years.  It started around 1990 when we needed a part time announcer for WWMJ.  He had previously worked on other stations in Bangor, and I asked Mighty John Marshall who was on the station at the time who J.J. West was.  I called J.J. at his job at WVII, channel 7, and he accepted a part time job immediately.

J.J. loved radio.  His passion made for a long day.  After completing a full day at WVII, he would then drive to Ellsworth to perform the afternoon drive shift on WWMJ, which was Magic 95.7, the oldies station.  He made the drive for ten years.

He continued working and playing the oldies when the station was conveniently moved to Brewer, closer to his home in Orrington.

WWMJ’s studio is on the third floor, the administrative staff is on the second floor, and man, they could hear J.J. jamming upstairs.  With the speakers blaring the girls below could hear him stomping his feet on the ceiling above! When he played “Rockin’ Pneumonia” or “Johnny B. Goode” the building shook!

J.J. West spins the best.

J.J. eventually got his dream job when he moved across the hall to Q106.5, the country station.  He loved everything about country, the artists, the songs and the concerts.  He was living his dream talking on the biggest station in Bangor and playing the music that he loved!

He was known as Gene to me.  He was the epitome of a part-time employee, every manager’s dream.  All it took was one phone call or one email and Gene would come running to help, in any way that he could.

It wasn’t beneath him to run a control board for a local basketball game broadcast on our little AM station, WDEA, at 9 o’clock at night. He was a class act.

He was our main weekend employee.  We knew that our stations were in good hands when Gene was there.  He knew how everything worked and was confident as to what needed to be done. I always knew that when Gene phoned me up at home that something was drastically wrong.  If he couldn’t fix it himself, then something was definitely broken.

Gene was a regular guy, a very easy person to work with. There was no ego to put up with, just always a smile when he came to work.  He treated everyone he came across with respect, and they in turn respected him.  He worked hard at two jobs.  He did it all for his family, his wife and his children, whom he all loved very much.

A hole has been left in our operation, and certainly in our hearts. I will miss him immensely.  He was my friend.

Gene’s favorite oldies artist was Johnny Rivers, so I leave you with this excerpt from “Summer Rain.”

The snow drifts by my window
North wind blowin' like thunder
Our love's burnin' like fire
And she's here by me, yeah, she's here with me
Let tomorrow be