Jay Nelson (1963-1980)
“I just want to say thank you and goodbye. It’s been 17 years and 24 days of absolute fun.” (Jay Nelson’s final words on 1050 CHUM December 24, 1980)
Jay Nelson CHUM portrait, 1968 (CHUM Archives/Doug Thompson)
Jay Nelson was a legend in Toronto radio. He may not hold the record for being on a morning show the longest, but Jay is one of only three Canadian DJ’s celebrated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in 1995 (The other two are Vancouver’s Red Robinson and David Marsden aka Dave Mickie).
Jay came to CHUM from WKBW radio and television in Buffalo in December of 1963 replacing Al Boliska. For 17 years and 24 days, Jay got Southern Ontarians out of bed and get off to work with time, temperature, traffic reports, music and fun with a cast of characters that included Ed Sullivan, Maude Frickert, John Wayne, Shredney Vashtar and a myriad of other character voices.
Jay Nelson outside Maple Leaf Gardens before Beatles concert, September 7, 1964 (CHUM Archives/Doug Thompson)
Nelson introduced The Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1964, ’65 and ’66.
Jay Nelson Hello Toronto ad, 1964 (CHUM Archives/Doug Thompson)
“Hello Toronto” was one of Jay’s daily features that really caught on with listeners. Jay would call unsuspecting people or a business and “Hello Toronto” was one of Jay’s daily features that really caught on with listeners. Jay would call unsuspecting people or a business and present the wildest scenarios. Once he was Willie Howard (a favoured alias) who wanted to bring his wild tiger over to play with the homeowners’ cat.
His final CHUM broadcast on December 24, 1980 was a star packed event with dozens of Jay’s friends, co-workers, fans and celebrities wishing him well as the new CITY TV weatherman. As the final moments drew close, Jay became quite emotional and literally was at a loss for words (at least briefly).
Jay Nelson (centre) with CHUM News Director Dick Smyth during Jay's final morning show, December 24, 1980 (CHUM Archives/Doug Thompson)
The weatherman gig didn’t last long. After he left CITY TV, Jay went back to radio and worked at CKFM (The Mix), CHFI, CJEZ (EZ Rock) and CKEY. He was also a teacher at the National Institute of Broadcasting for several years.
Jay Nelson (real name Frank Coxe) passed away on February 18, 1994 at the age of 57.
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