Mary Jim Everidge
In an era when most women were not involved in politics, Mary Jim was known statewide for her work as a political activist in the Democratic Party. While she has been listed in “Who’s Who in American Politics,” and honored by being named President of the Florida Federation of Business and Professional Women, most of her work was for the county as a social worker and in the county tax assessor’s office.
Mary Jim was also one of the few women to have her own radio talk show long before there was such a thing called “talk radio.” Her broadcasting career spanned the 1960’s, beginning in 1962 when she was hired by WPLA General Manager George Friend to host a daily 15-minute program. She quickly gained audience attention, and within months, the show expanded to thirty minutes, and then to an hour.
But hers was not the traditional women’s show. Mary Jim would tell you in a minute that she probably had more male listeners than female, most likely because the show leaned heavily on politics. With her connections, she never had a problem lining up high profile names to join her on the air, and often featured Hollywood celebrities like Pernell Roberts and Dan Blocker from TV’s “Bonanza” who were in the central Florida area. Always interested in the opinions of her audience, Mary Jim would open up the phone lines and solicit their feelings on issues, and was not afraid to take a stand herself, if necessary, even at the risk of controversy.
Born in Tampa, the daughter of a public health nurse whose parents were divorced, Mary Jim married early at the age of 15 and had her first child when she was 17. She began to take on a leadership role when she became involved in the PTA and extended over the years to include the Girl Scouts, Traveler’s Aid Society, the Leukemia Society, Plant City’s First United Methodist Church, the Foster Grandparents Advisory Council, Hillsborough County Consumer’s League, and Steppin’ Stone Farm.
Even with all Mary Jim had to do, she remained active in her church and found time to maintain her role as a devoted wife to her husband, James, and a loving mom to their children, Mary Lib and Jim. She and James eventually retired and continued to make their home in Plant City.
On October 8, 2006 Mary Jim passed away at the age of 75.
1962 - 1968 WPLA (On Air Personality)