Updated Friday July 13, 2:00 p.m.

Radio personality Tommy Jett, who was believed to be near death last weekend, has surprised family members and friends with considerable improvement in his condition.  Friday afternoon, the man long known as "TJ the DJ" was smiling and joking, telling his grandchildren, "I keep pulling rabbits out of my hat." 

For the first time duing his week-long hospitalization, tubes have removed from his throat, enabling him to speak.  Although his voice is somewhat weakened, he seems to be thrilled to be able to express himself, saying "I know everybody who's been to see me, and I've heard them.   I just haven't been able to talk back until now."

His wife Charlene said, "I feel like we've got him back.  There's still a long way to go, he's lost a lot of weight and needs nutrition."  Friends say if his condition continues to improve, they're hopeful that physical therapy could help him regain strength.  There has also been talk of speech therapy, but Tommy seems determined to regain his communication skills quickly, and on Friday afternoon he appeared to be making great progress.

Updated Wednesday July 11, 8:20 p.m.

According to a message on Tommy Jett's Facebook page, his wife Charlene says after showing some improvement earlier this week, the legendary deejay is sedated and is breathing with the aid of a ventilator.  She says doctors are hoping he will regain enough strength to undergo an additional procedure, and have a feeding tube.  She adds, "I just want to thank everybody for their prayers and concern.  It is all in God's hands now."

Previous story from July 9:

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Family members say Chattanooga radio legend Tommy Jett is in "very critical condition" at a local hospital, battling a variety of illnesses resulting from an April car accident. 

Jett, who has had diabetes for 46 years, had suffered a seizure at the time of the crash, losing control of his vehicle on a north Georgia highway.  After flipping several times, emergency personnel worked for two hours to extricate him from the wreckage.

His wife Charlene said the 71-year-old disc jockey has been dealing with dehydration, infections and a lack of nutrition in recent weeks.  She said he had difficulty swallowing following a neck operation shortly after the wreck. 

He underwent surgery to repair the problem last weekend, but was at home for less than two days before being rushed back to the hospital late Friday afternoon.  The latest setback was the most serious, as Jett struggles to regain consciousness. 

Since moving to Chattanooga in 1961, the Old Hickory, Tennessee native has been a constant presence on local airwaves, most famously on top-40 giant WFLI in the 1960s, and country station WDOD in the 1970s.  Known for his signature "Hey Now!" greeting, rings on every finger and flashy sunglasses, he's been a tireless worker for local charities. 

In recent years, he has specialized in "oldies" radio, and has hosted a weekly show on TommyJett.com until his illness. 

Mrs. Jett said doctors are monitoring her husband's condition.  "We sure appreciate all his friends and fans for their prayers.  All we can do is put it in God's hands at this point."