Walker County names road for radio's Tommy Jett
FLINTSTONE, GA (WRCB) - Popular Tennessee Valley radio personality Tommy Jett says he's honored that his name will live forever on the street that leads to his home. Signs for "Tommy Jett Drive" were unveiled Friday near the intersection of Georgia Highway 193 and Happy Valley Road in Walker County.
County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell and Sheriff Steve Wilson were among the dignitaries who were on hand to salute the 72-year-old deejay, who began his career at Chattanooga's top-40 powerhouse WFLI in 1961. Since that time, he's worked at numerous stations, gone from playing rock to country to oldies, and now does his show on the internet, at TommyJett.com.
About a hundred of Jett's friends, fans, former co-workers and family members stood with county police officers and emergency workers, many offering handshakes and hugs to the man whose familiar "Hey Now!" catchphrase has greeted them for decades.
"I'm really not even supposed to be here," Jett said, referring to two near-death experiences earlier this year. In April, he was involved in a one-car accident in Walker County, trapping him inside the car for more than two hours after going airborne and flipping several times. In July, complications from surgery resulted in an illness in which doctors told Jett's wife that there was no hope for recovery. "They told me he would never wake up," Charlene Jett said.
Jett credited the power of prayer and his many friends for his recovery. He said he has had to re-learn how to swallow food, but has made great progress. "I lost 60 pounds this summer, but now I've gained 20 pounds back. I feel like I'm on way back," he said in the strong radio voice that has endeared him to listeners.
Sheriff Wilson called Jett, "one of our most generous citizens," citing his work with the Forgotten Child Fund and the Stocking Full of Love program, which supplies Christmas gifts for needy children. "When we need some publicity, or an energetic personality who can keep entertainment going for hours, Tommy is who we turn to. He's a true friend to Walker County."
Commissioner Heiskell said, "It is really a pleasure to honor a man who has been such an important part of our lives. All of us grew up listening to him, and now we know the man behind the microphone. Tommy is a positive person, and bestowing this honor on him is a great thing for all of us. You can see from the big turnout on a weekday morning, this man has a lot of friends."
The new Tommy Jett Drive leads in to Jett's neighborhood. "These signs are real convenient," he joked. "If I ever get lost coming home, I can just look for my name." Turning serious for a moment, he said, "This really means a lot to me. Radio is my life. I love my listeners, I love the music, I love helping people. This means my name will live on, even after I'm gone, and I know that means a lot to my family."