Long-time Calloway County broadcaster Joe Pat James has died. James worked for Murray radio station WNBS for more than two decades, most recently hosting a daily history and local personality show, “On the Road.”
Coworker Pete Lancaster says James had a great memory for western Kentucky history.
“His recall of names, and friendships and events was like no one else I have ever known in my life,” said Lancaster. “He was always positive. I don’t believe I ever saw him when he wasn’t upbeat about things that were happening. He loved life and he loved people.”
James was born in Kirksey. He was a veteran of World War II, serving as chief of a communications and message center. James told Murray's VFW Post 6291 that he remembered most of the base codes used in the war. He came to radio after working in the credit reporting industry.
Lancaster says he and James sometimes shared inside jokes about local traditions.
“He’d be one of the few people, when he’d come into the studio and I saw him, I’d say ‘Joe Pat, you look like a fourth Monday mule. And he loved that because he understood the connotation,” commented Lancaster. “Murray used to have mule day and it was always the fourth Monday of the month, and people would come in from the farms, and they would really slick up those mules that they were trying to sell, brush them out and cut their manes … so if someone was dressed up they were a fourth Monday mule, and Joe Pat got it.”
WNBS sports broadcaster Neal Bradley says a piece of history is lost with James’ death because he knew so many people, and remembered so many facts and events.
Bradley says another thing that stood out about James was his dry wit.
“When I first started working with him, I wasn’t used to being around someone of that age, y’know 65 or so, who had a good sense of humor. I was used them being [cantankerous]. But when I got used to him, I thought, this guy is really funny,” said Bradley.
Bradley says he and James had a good time laughing together at the office. They also shared a love of Murray State sports, though Bradley admits James also had an affinity for University of Kentucky teams.
James died Sunday at his home following complications from a fall. He was 85.
A funeral is planned Nov. 8, at 11 a.m., at First United Methodist Church in Murray. Visitation will be Nov. 7, from 5-8 p.m.