The day the music died (again): A side

Mr. Fowler is shown with his son, Jim.

By Kathryn “Chazz” Hirschfeld
Staff writer
Mr. James Fowler was a jolly old man, the opposite of a grumpy old man. I never saw him without a smile after he retired. And during the time I knew him while he managed Hamilton’s WERH Radio Station, he was most always smiling. In fact, I only saw Mr. Fowler one time in 10 years without a smile. That’s a pretty good record.
Mr. Fowler passed away on Nov. 19, 2023. I lost a friend and so did many others. We also lost a wonderful boss and a pillar of our community for more than half a century. Some lost a beloved family member. Mr. Fowler had a sweet, special soul and spirit, and I’m grateful to have known him.
I was blessed to be able to work at WERH for nearly a decade, mostly as a weekend deejay (DJ). I considered myself to be the world’s first (and maybe last) undercover DJ.
Some DJs want the spotlight. I had another job during the week. I was a journalist. I didn’t want the two worlds to collide. I went by Chazz there. Some of my friends have called me Chazz for years. Now WERH has closed, I even prefer Chazz and have added it to my byline.
I’ve called this very personal column-type story, “The day the music died (again),” because to me, when WERH went off the air, that was the day the music died the first time. We even played “American Pie,” by Don McLean, as our very last song. When Mr. Fowler died, to me, the crushing loss felt similar. Yet, he would not want us to be sad too long.
In Mr. Fowler’s honor, I’ve collected some stories from a few of those who were closest to him. And yes, it’s going to be Mr. Fowler for the most part when I refer to him here. That is what I called him everyday I worked with him and every time I saw him after his retirement. The “Mr.” is very important. It was not only a show of respect, an acknowledgement of his managerial role, a salutation befitting the ultimate gentleman he was, but “Mr.,” in his case, was nearly like a term of endearment.

See complete story in the Journal Record.
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