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Fes, West Virginia, there is another Jay By Martha Smith Insomniacs of the Kanawha Valley, take heart. A mere flick of the radio dial will give you company throughout the night. Jay Jarrell, a radio veteran of nearly 25 years experience, is your friend indeed. He is "the old Jaybird, flying around from midnight to 6 a.m." on WKLC-Radio in St. Albans. His is the voice that thousands of people tune in each night. While researching Jarrell's radio program and the f a s c i n a t i o n it holds for the listeners who call in each night to chew the fat and request popular country songs. I got to play Mystery Lady on the air. It was great fun talking to callers who tried to guess my identity from various clues. And. after spending that night in the control room. I can appreciate how people get hooked on Jarrell's show. I initially intended to stay only an hour or two since it was my day off and no pay from the Gazette was involved. But the longer I stayed and the more callers I talked to. the more involved I became. It was impossible to leave. Jarrell has a magnetic personality capable of holding an audience through the night. His listeners are a family that includes truck drivers, chemical workers tuning in on the graveyard shift and housewives whose husbands are working midnight shift in the coal mines. Sprinkled in are countless shut-ins, lonely and forgotten people, and a large number who simply love country- western music and can't get to sleep at night. i-or them. Jay Jarrell is an oasis in the middle of a dark, friendless n i g h t . He k n o w s all the regular callers by name, and recognizes most voices instantly. He knows the f a v o r i t e song b e f o r e i t ' s r e - quested.He knows which callers a r e h a v i n g m a r i t a l d i f f i c u l t i e s , medical problems.- trouble on the job. He admits to being something of f n one ear a male "Dear Abby" on the air. but unlike Abby, Jay Jarrell isn't above making a slightly naughty remark or playing along with a romantic proposition. From what 1 observed, the program's success relies on Jarrell's fine sense of timeliness. He keeps abreast of all the CB jargon. He plays the big favorites of the day among country music fans--even if they're records he personally doesn't l i k e very much. He announces revivals, school meetings a n d o t h e r a c t i v i t i e s o n t h e "Country Calendar." As a promoter of local talent, he plays recordings by West Virginia musicians and i n v i t e s many of them to call up and play the fiddle or guitar over the air. And. although he's interviewed dozens of recording stars during his career and has worked at many excellent stations (including one overseas that broadcast to servicemen), Jarrell remains self-effacing and charmingly shy. Admittedly a little nervous as an interview subject, he is magically transformed when working for a radio audience of thousands. He is a true believer in the power of audience loyalty and remains grateful to his listeners, always giving his all in a performance. Jarrell's listeners, in turn, sense a sincere quality in the announcer's warm baritone voice. Many regard him as a f a m i l y member. One woman was near tears one night, calling to tell Jarrell how much his program of music and friendly conversation means to her. In at least three cases, the announcer revealed, he has taken suicide calls over the air and has been successful in talking the distraught callers out of taking their lives. Alter one visit to the program. I f i n d myself t u n i n g i n r e g u l a r l y now. a virtual addict. I listen for Ida to play the h a r m o n i c a , for Sweet Honesty and Little Egypt to talk CB lingo, for the mayor of Possum Hollow to tell ridiculously corny jokes. Presently Jarrell is engaged in an anti-smoking campaign, an effort he's making to help a woman listener who is critically ill with lung disease kick the habit. Jarrell has joined her in t r y i n g to q u i t smoking and has challenged his listeners to do the same. If all of Jay Jarrell's listeners stopped s m o k i n g , you could see clear from here to Kentucky. Now that's a big 10-4. FOOTLIGHT FOOTNOTES: When Chris Sarandon maintained in a recent New York Times interview that he'd never had an acting lesson and didn't know what he was doing when he got in front of a camera, it probably made Chuck Neel at West Virginia University wonder who the hell that was that he lavished time and attention on at the university about 10 years ago. 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