Jerry Pippin, the radio talk show host whose Internet website attracted millions of listeners worldwide, died peacefully on Monday, March 2, 2015, in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Jerry Bertrand Pippin, 75, was born on November 25, 1939, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He attended Whittier Elementary School, Alice Robertson Junior High School and graduated from Muskogee Central High School in 1958.
Jerry Pippin always wanted to be in broadcasting. When he was young, he would carry around a pretend microphone and interview his sisters, friends, and even the family dog. Radio became his passion. He would listen to late night radio with shows originating from Chicago and beyond.
Jerry started hanging out at KBIX and KMUS, the two local radio stations in his home town of Muskogee, Oklahoma when he was in Junior High School. Finally after a couple of years, they got tired of him being a groupie, and gave him a job as one of the youngest announcers in the history of radio station KBIX.
Radio was good to him, and he continued working full time and attended Northeastern State University in nearby Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In 1961, he joined the US Army where he was stationed in the San Francisco Bay area. The San Francisco area was a hotbed of stand-up comedy in those years, and Jerry was exposed to stand-up for the first time. He now had two loves, radio and performing.
After the Army, he returned to KBIX in Muskogee, and in 1967 he became part-owner and manager of KMMM-FM. Jerry did not like the business end of radio, and he enjoyed performing, so he sold the radio station, and returned to California to work in the Los Angeles market and pursued an acting/comedy career.
Stand-up comedy took center stage in his life in the 1980s. He worked with a number of prominent recording artists as Opening Act and announcer, which included Wanda Jackson, Charlie Pride, Asleep at the Wheel, and many others. He played almost every major comedy club venue in the country as part of the comedy team of Pippin and Sessions and ultimately owned and operated Comedy Clubs in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Lincoln, Nebraska and Arlington, Texas. He also syndicated the Comedy Minute that was heard on radio stations throughout the country as well as an hour show of comedy cuts and comedian interviews called “The Comedy Radio Network.”
By 1987, Pippin had decided to get out of the comedy club business and return to broadcasting because of a lucrative offer from KVEG in Las Vegas to do another stint as an interview show host. He enjoyed the bright lights and excitement of Las Vegas, and hosted a nationwide interview show originating from the entertainment capital. His syndicated show was broadcast first on the Independent Broadcasters Network, then Talk America, and later on his own ad hoc network that claimed over a 189 affiliates, many in major markets such as Phoenix, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Tampa.
In 1998, Jerry returned to his home state, Oklahoma. He did an air stint at the legendary Oldies station, KOMA, in Oklahoma City, and later he would also do a show on KOOL-FM (KQLL) in Tulsa, an Oldies station. Clear Channel, owners of KQLL, wanted an exclusive agreement and Jerry refused, therefore, ending his Tulsa/Oklahoma City commute on the Turner Turnpike.
This led to his creating a variety radio format for The Jerry Pippin Show and on Halloween 1999, using elements of news/talk, oldies and personality radio, he returned to where he had started in radio, KBIX in Muskogee, which was streaming its signal over the Internet. In 2000, he added the now highly successful UFO, Paranormal and Elvis content and programming to the mix. In 2001 his show was voted Best Specialty RADIO Program by the Oklahoma Broadcaster’s Association. During that year he became legally blind from complications from diabetes. With courage and determination he continued his shows and found new ways to reach his goals with help from his companion and friends.
His “Memories of the 20th Century” programs received special recognition from the Oklahoma Broadcasters Association. He also received the 2003 Trail Blazer Award at the Fourth Annual Bare Bones International Independent Film Festival, for promoting Arts and Entertainment. This opened the door to implementing a successful Internet radio project – on-demand 24/7 programming that has grown to reach millions of listeners around the world.
Jerry is featured in the movie documentary, “Fastwalkers”, and is featured in other UFO documentaries. He has also made all of his entertainment interviews available to the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.
In the fall of 2008, Jerry renewed his pledge to offer objective, entertaining radio programming mixed with multi-media presentations. One of Jerry’s heroes was Edward R. Murrow who 50 years ago warned the industry that over-concentration of media ownership and pursuit of commercial success would push rates up and at the same time make the broadcasters prisoners of their own success. We have seen the results of his warning coming true with less investigative reporting and independence from special interests almost non -existent in today’s media world.
When asked why he continued to broadcast when most people had retired, he said, “It’s this situation that I have. I have developed a voice of independence from big media restrictions yet our audience has reached big media proportions. I want to continue offering strong objective programs and yet keep a menu of entertaining things available as well.” You can hear most of his radio shows on demand at www.jerrypippin.com.
Jerry Pippin will be deeply missed, remembered by his warm smile, witty sense of humor, tremendous generosity to anyone in need, and his commitment and love for his companion, daughters, family and friends.
His family feels immensely blessed to have been given time on earth with him. He leaves a tremendous legacy of compassion, creativity and generosity. He knew His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his spirit is at rest now with Him.
Jerry is preceded in death by his parents, Virgil and Bertha Lee Pippin. He is survived by his companion of 31 years, Roberta Scott Hamilton, Muskogee and daughter Hillary Hamilton, Tulsa, OK; daughters Lisa Massey and husband Greg, Oklahoma City, OK; daughter, Lori Kapuchuck, Mannford, OK; sister, Beverly Robertson, Muskogee, OK; sister Marilyn James and husband Gary, Grand Prairie, TX; sister, Marlene McLamore and husband Michael, Muskogee, OK; two grandchildren, Kari Strawn and Cory Kapuchuck and wife Stephanie; three great grandchildren; two nieces, four nephews, many cousins and other family members, and many friends including his web master, Jane Swartley, Boulder, Colorado.
Services will be held Friday, March 6, at 2:00 pm at Calvary Baptist Church, 220 South “R” Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma, with Dr. Jack Perkins and Rev. Tom Shelton officiating. Interment will follow at Greenhill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, Jerry requested that donations be made to Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin Ave., Muskogee, OK 74401 or to the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute, 608 Stanton L. Young Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73104-5965 or online at www.mei.org