The Man Behind the Microphone

Article Published: Feb. 4, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
The Man Behind the Microphone

Big Jim's Question of the Day happens every weekday just before 7 a.m. "According to a survey, 35 percent of mothers and dads do this when their kids are away." The answer Wednesday? "Play their video games."

Photo by Lauren K. Ohnesorge

WZJS has more than a new format. It has a new voice.

Meet the man behind the microphone, Jim Clarke.

"I started working in radio when I was 14," he said, counting. "I guess that was in 1966."
Since then, he's come a long way from that first station in Jackson, Mich., to places like Washington D.C. and New Orleans, and he thinks he's finally found his home.

Last summer, he made the move to the High Country, starting in sales at High Country Radio Group. By December he was the voice of WZJS Mornings.

He's more than just a voice, he's a father, and it's a subject that brings him to tears, especially in light of the recent need for Haitian adoptions.

"We adopted Marius when he was 8-years-old," he said.

Marius, now 18, was a Romanian orphan and, through him, Clarke saw first hand how a family can put a light into a child's eyes.

"You go over there and you see these orphanages... these kids are just lost. You can see it in their eyes. Their eyes are just blank," he said.

Within months, there was a visible difference in his son's eyes.

"They lit up," he said. "I've got to tell you, I don't care where the child is from or who the child is from, every child needs a parent."

Fifty-three orphans arrived earlier this week from Haiti, and some estimates put the totals of displaced children in the thousands. It's something people debating parenthood should take notice of, he said, and he has some advice.

"I was scared to death ... I didn't know what I was getting into," he said, "But [adopting] is the most rewarding experience I've ever had in my life."

As for WJZS, he has been pleasantly surprised at how well he's connected with the staff and listeners.

In his spare time, Clarke volunteers his voice for men's and women's basketball games at Watauga High School. He's already the voice of Appalachian State University men's and women's volleyball and basketball, and next year you'll hear him take the microphone at ASU football games, an ironic move for a Michigan grad.

"I'm just really enjoying life for the first time in a long time," he said, "I just really like getting up in the morning."

"We're happy to have him," High Country Radio Group general manager Tom Lanier said. "We've already gotten him to put on ASU apparel. I think we've made the trip over from the dark side."

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