April 11, 2011 6:15:00 AM
Jobie Martin lost his life in a tragic automobile accident on Interstate 220 in Jackson a few weeks ago. He was 91. He was a broadcasting legend over where I grew up. I was one of his biggest fans.
Back in the day before crystal clear FM radio, we could tune in to WOKJ in Jackson beaming -- count ''um -- 50,000 watts of 99.9 percent pure rhythm and blues straight to the Mississippi Delta, static free.
When you heard, "Fifteen Fifty ... W - O - K - J ... It''s what''s happening," you better hold on because they were going to take you on a musical roller coaster ride. They played the standard crossover hits by the Temps, Four Tops and Otis, with the added bonus of down home R&B.
Jobie Martin and Poppa Rock were the two DJs I remember. WLBT television, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, recognized Jobie Martin''s star power. They gave him his own show on Saturdays around the noon hour. I didn''t miss it when I was around the house. He presented the best local music talent, along with a guest representing some worthy cause. He was every bit the public servant as much as he was the entertainer.
Jobie Martin was not the best interviewer. In fact, he was terrible. Like me, he would do 90 percent of the talking. During his interviews, I''d find myself falling out of my chair laughing so hard. The truth be known, he knew what he was doing; he didn''t want you to touch that dial. You never wanted to miss something that he would come out with.
He loved to brag about his football days at Jackson State, where he earned the nickname "The Flash." I''m almost sure he didn''t earn the name for his athletic prowess, though he could make you think that he did.
I suspect Jobie was in charge of production and ad sales. Over the years I have often wondered how the advertising pros in New York never discovered him. He was a genius. When he spoke for a company -- ad-libbed 90 percent of the time -- he made you remember their name and what they were about.
During his television run, he must have sold a million cars for Toby Trowbridge, who owned Van Trow Oldsmobile, and that many more cans of "that good Schlitz beer."
My favorite memories of him were the ads he did for People''s Funeral Home in Jackson.
"Jobie Martin here for People''s Funeral Home. Ladies and gentlemen, this week at People''s Funeral Home we are featuring our one cent sale -- pay a penny more and take a friend with you. And remember, at People''s Funeral Home, we dig you the most and we''re the last to let you down."
He opened a fried chicken place, Jobie''s Fried Chicken, on Lynch Street in Jackson. He could make your mouth water describing each item on the menu. He would close with his slogan, "Jobie''s Fried Chicken -- where the flavor''s locked in and the grease is locked out."
I don''t ride by a KFC without looking at the colonel (another marketing genius) and thinking to myself, "Your 12 herbs and spices are OK, but I know somebody in Jackson, Mississippi, who had you beat hands down."
One of my biggest regrets is that as long as I lived in Jackson, I never got a chance to make Jobie Martin''s acquaintance to tell him how much I enjoyed his shows.
I''ll always remember him as the entertainment icon he was; however, others will remember him more as a tireless volunteer serving a host of organizations, and all the good work he did for the community.
Mississippi has lost one of its shining stars.
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.