It was a cold day in well,
Buffalo actually when J.R. Reid was born.
Dec. 22, 1944, the thermometer hovered at zero
degrees, setting a record low temperature for the
day. It makes it almost fitting that Reid would shuffle
off to Cape Coral, Fla., for his retirement from a
long and decorated career in broadcasting and beyond
in Western New York."I'm not sure, at this point,
what I'm going to be doing if I'm going to
be doing," he said, although he has had conversations
with a radio station owner in Florida about a potential
It would be just the latest of many radio gigs he's
had, starting at a very young age. His first paid
position at a radio station WINE,1080 AM
was at the ripe young age of 14, albeit sweeping floors
and answering phones. In 1961, J.R. was hired to do
weekend news and weather. In 1962 he graduated from
Kenmore East, going to work at WNIA. Station policy
was to name their DJs by time slot, making it less
noticeable when they switched DJs, Reid said. So J.R.
or Tommy Thomas, rather was the new
morning disc jockey until he switched time slots and
names, instantly transforming
into Mike Melody.
In 1964, he came to Lockport to work at the then-WUSJ.
"I had a request and dedication show which was
very popular with the teenagers - it was called Reid
Rocks - and we did." Finally, J.R. was free to
be J.R. Officially, it's John Ratchford Reid III.
After a five-year stint at WUSJ, Reid went to work
at the sheriff's department. Originally he was undercover
in narcotics. Over a 20-year period, he worked in
communications, community relations, and criminal
About five years ago, he came back to WLVL permanently
as part sales and part broadcasting. He got himself
a nice gig in the morning from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. with
the wake-up show and from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the
listener call-in show "Let's Talk." Reid
has frequent guests on his show. Some don't come around
any more. Lockport Police Chief Neil Merritt is among
them."I had somebody on the show that he didn't
approve of," Reid said. "My boss doesn't
tell me who I have on and who I don't have on, much
less the chief of police.""And the sheriff
doesn't come on because the listeners were laying
it to him pretty good," Reid said. He doesn't
protect guests or censor questions, he said."I
said when I started my talk show ... that I was going
to be an equal opportunity basher - and if someone
deserves to be bashed, I'll be the first to swing
the hammer," he said.
|The vice president of the Buffalo Broadcast
Hall of Fame has a good rapport with other area
broadcasters."I listen to Sandy (Beach) and
Sandy has admitted to other people that he listens
to me," Reid said. "That's sort of a
feather in my cap.""I'm a big fan of
personalities and he's a great personality,"
Beach said."I'm just thinking. He picked
the perfect state of Florida," Beach said.
"He'll be the only one in the state who knows
how to vote. He'll fit in very well, though, because
he already eats dinner at 3:30 and wears his pants
under his arms." Continuing to roast, Beach
added, "When he gets down there, I hope he
doesn't tell people that he's from Buffalo because
we already have enough image problems."
Clip Smith called Reid a wealth of
music knowledge. "He probably knows more about
Rock and Roll music and probably has I would
say without a doubt the largest collection
of anyone I know." Reid admits to having one
of Western New York's largest private music collection,
measuring some 250,000 selections.
Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan, a frequent "Let's Talk"
guest, calls J.R. a personal friend. "It's been
a pleasure working with J.R. up there," Sullivan
said. "He tries to bring the issues that are
important at the time." Sullivan said sometimes
the show presents unique situations. "When I
go on as the mayor, you're not sure what's going to
be presented with you," he said. Reid said it's
all part of the show. "I'm not here to please
either my guests or my listeners necessarily,"
he said. "And I'm not going to soft-pedal my
WLVL owner Richard Greene said he's not sure what
to do once J.R. leaves in December. "We are still
in search of the person to fill his very large shoes,"
Greene said. "It may take two people."
Contact Scott Leffler at 439-9222, Ext. 246, or