Jeff was an on-air personality at a Christian radio station in our area. And he exemplified the word “personality.”
His was the morning show which aired weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and included a variety of Christian music interspersed with weather updates (in which beautiful days were always declared to be “screamers”), reminders of the correct time (usually accompanied by a reminder to “simonize your watches”), school closings, bantering with Jim in the newsroom, a myriad of voices that seemed to come as naturally to Jeff as his own, and lots of highly infectious laughter.
Jeff was also the station’s sound engineer, so he served in that capacity for the talk show which was hosted by the station manager, Char, and aired during the next hour. That show often involved interviews with Christian authors or speakers or other folks of interest to the listeners; but, just as often, it was a time for the on-air personalities to chat and share stories of their families and maybe take some calls from listeners.
When Jeff participated in those chats, no one ever knew where his nimble mind might take the conversation, least of all Char. It was never clear what would set him off and send him into the telling of a hilarious story, often using one of the many character voices he had developed. He loved it when he could get Char laughing so hard that she couldn’t even breathe, let alone talk. And that happened often.
In addition to the morning show and the mid-morning talk show, Jeff also participated with Char in a noontime cooking show, in which Char would give a recipe which would then be repeated by Jeff as he wrote it down, giving listeners time to do the same. During the giving of those recipes, Jeff's mind would often take off down a rabbit trail, with the result that listeners were encouraged to write in for a copy of the recipe that Char was unable to get through that day.
Over the course of his many years at the radio station, Jeff shared his life with the listening audience. Most listeners felt as if he was a personal friend, even if they’d never met him. They rejoiced with him and his wife, Cheri, when they announced the adoption of their baby daughter, Darci. They laughed with him as he told about getting a puppy for Darci, a wire-haired fox terrier named Raggs. They looked forward to stories about Darci and Raggs growing up together, stories of Darci dressing Raggs up in little girl clothes and referring to the dog as her sister.
And they grieved with Jeff when he told of his wife’s cancer, the terrible progression of the disease, and her ultimate passing from this life. The joy that bubbled up from within Jeff was tempered with sorrow.
In the aftermath of Cheri’s death, there were poignant but funny stories from Jeff about how he and Darci and Raggs were learning to cope without her.
One such story occurred during the noontime cooking show, triggered by Char's mention of ground beef to be used in the recipe she was giving that day. Following is an audio clip of Jeff derailing yet another recipe.