21-Alive Weather Caster Leaves Legacy In Radio And TV

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 7, 2012 Updated Jun 7, 2012 at 6:41 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fort Wayne recognizes the passing of a local T-V and radio legend.

21-Alive weather caster Jay Walker died Wednesday, but viewers and radio listeners won’t soon forget him.

Thousands of people, who didn't know him, felt like they knew him, through the two very different roles he played in radio and T-V.

Jay Walker was a household name and face on 21-Alive for 30 years, most of those as the station's prime-time weather anchor.

But the beginnings of his star power can be traced back to 1966, when he was one of the original W-L-Y-V "live guys".

Fort Wayne attorney Steve Shine, who later had ownership in radio and TV stations, grew up admiring Jay's early days behind the radio microphone.

Steve Shine/Radio Station Owner: " It was really the hottest rock ‘n roll station in Fort Wayne, it had the California sound of instant rock ‘n roll, and Jay was one of their superstars."

Doc West is a Fort Wayne radio legend as well, 32 years a Disc Jockey at “Rock 104”.

He recalls his former competition sporting a different look in the radio profession.

Doc West/Rock 104 D.J.: " He actually had long hair, not as long as mine, but he had bangs and hair down to here, and I said, wow, look at that, that's Jay Walker. He was relaxed, he was funny. He didn't take himself seriously."

Jeff Neumeyer: " Jay Walker was hired at Channel 21 in February 1976, his whole on air TV career was in weather. He wasn't a meteorology superstar, but his strength was connecting with the viewers."

Jerry Giesler/Indiana's NewsCenter: " I remember my first day at WPTA, Jay welcomed me at the door, because he just happened to be walking by, and he's like who are you? I've never seen you before. He was just himself, he didn't change."

Station President and General Manager Jerry Giesler says Walker was known in the newsroom as a skilled practical joker, but he says he was also a rock that viewers came to lean on.

Jerry Giesler: " You know the one thing you could count on is that he was always happy on the air, he gave you a sense that the sun was coming up this morning, and would stay up and that's the greatest gift that anybody can give to a community."

Jay returned to his radio roots later in his career, but not as a disc jockey.

He hosted morning drive for WOWO Radio in the late 1990's.

It was a talk format, adding to his well-rounded career in local media.

Walker was 74 years old.

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