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Jay Kuppers

Jay began his broadcast career in 1960 working part-time after school and weekends at Lakeland’s Top 40 daytimer WYSE-AM 1330. After high school graduation, he put in an application at WBSR in Pensacola and was hired for nights using the on-air name Johnny King.  His talents also took him to stations in North Carolina, Knoxville, Tennessee, and New Orleans’ WNOE. In 1965, he returned to Lakeland to work the 6 to midnight air shift on WONN.

In late 1966, Jay left Lakeland again – this time for Florida’s east coast and Cocoa’s WKKO. By early 1967, he had moved to Ocala as Program Director, Music Director, and morning drive host of another Top 40 operation, WWKE. While still in Ocala, he decided to try his hand at radio sales, a side of the business that he came to enjoy so much that it became the major focus of the remainder of his radio career.

When WONN was sold to NBC personality Joe Garagiola in 1971, Jay moved back to Lakeland the following year to work in sales and was soon promoted to Sales Manager. When Garagiola sold the station in 1976, he moved to a sales position across town with FM 94.1 WVFM. In 1978, he accepted an extremely lucrative offer to become Station Manager and Sales manager at another Lakeland station, WQPD. He added to his already heavy workload by also doing the morning show. All this made for a stressfully long work day and, in 1982, he suffered a heart attack.

Jay left radio shortly thereafter and bought the local Olin Mott Tire Store, changing its name to the Tire and Auto Center. When he sold the business a decade later, he went to work for Peoples Cable. As his heart problems continued to increase, more job concerns had to be addressed, and he was forced to move into other less stressful areas of work. By the late 1990’s, he was working in the pro shop at a local golf and country club and on the waiting list for a heart transplant. In 2002, he passed away from heart complications at the age of 60.

In addition to being a member of Lakeland’s Noon Sertoma Club, Jay also coached youth soccer from 1979 to 2000. In the late 90’s he was also a coach for the Kathleen High School soccer team. To recognize his many years of devotion to the youth of the area, a soccer field was named in his memory at the Hunt Fountain Park Sports Complex in North Lakeland.



Station History

1976 - 1978 WVFM/WEZY-FM 94.1 - Lakeland (Sales)

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