Legendary Memphis radio DJ Bobby O’Jay dies, official confirms

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bobby O’Jay, known as the King of Memphis radio, has passed away, according to a release from iHeartMedia Market President Kevin Klein.

PHOTOS: Legendary Memphis radio DJ Bobby O’Jay dies, official confirms

Klein confirmed the news Tuesday morning.

He was a Memphis icon who died doing what he loved best.

The WDIA DJ passed away Tuesday morning. The cause of death hasn’t been released.

O’Jay’s career spanned nearly four decades on America’s first Black radio station, and he was one of the most familiar voices on the radio in Memphis.

The local legend’s career behind the microphone led him to interview legends like Muhammad Ali, Whitney Houston, Sherman Hensley: AKA George Jefferson, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Cochran, and The Temptations.

Memphis radio DJ Bobby O’Jay inducted into Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame

But it was more than famous names that enticed Bobby O’Jay into a lifelong career in radio.

“It was a hot summer day, and we were taking a break from working in the cotton fields, and my cousin Melvin Jones came to visit, and here we are on this weekday in the middle of the week, super hot,” O’Jay told FOX13 in a 2021 interview. “At 12 years old, I started to think this is going to be what I try to do. I’m going to be on the radio. I’m going to be a disk jockey.”

Born in Batesville, Mississippi, O’Jay was one of 9 siblings who said he was born to do radio.

His career started in Montgomery, Alabama, and since 1972, he sat behind the microphone.

“I’ve never done anything but radio. I’ve never had this job, and that job I’ve always had, just the radio job. I mean, God has truly blessed me to make a decent salary at all the radio stations I’ve worked even back in the 70′s,” O’Jay said.

Renowned Radio Legend Bobby O’Jay Celebrates 35 Years with WDIA

In February 1983, he joined WDIA in Memphis, America’s first Black radio station.

As program director, he hired radio broadcast veterans Bev Johnson and Mike Evans, who still sit behind the mic.

Just last year, his career took him to another level in history. In July, O’Jay was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.

“It’s something I never, I was not working for it. I was just working for the enjoyment of what I do.”

When we talked to him almost a year ago, O’Jay told FOX13 he had no plans of retiring any time soon.

He said he loved what he did and wanted to do it as long as he could.