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Jim Packard A Natural Voice Behind The Radio Microphone, Dies

June 20, 2012

Wisconsin Public radio is a sad place today.  So is a large swath of the radio listening public.

There are those who make working in radio broadcasting look easy.  And they do it over and over.  Pretty soon the listening audience thinks it is easy.  That Jim Packard was such a professional and able to make it all seem so natural when he was on air was the key to his success, and why so many people loved him. 

His death in such an abrupt manner can be viewed with bittersweetness.  Up until the very last radio show he was doing what he loved.

How many people are fortunate enough to say the same?

“Whad’Ya Know”  will continue.  We will laugh again.  But we will never forget the way it once sounded thanks to Jim Packard.

Except for when the show was in reruns, “Whad’Ya Know” host Michael Feldman saw announcer Jim Packard almost every Saturday since 1985, when the Madison-based, nationally syndicated public radio humor and quiz show made its debut.

The last time was at their hotel after the June 9 broadcast from New York.

“I said, ‘Great show, Jim,’ and he smiled and nodded,” said Feldman, who returned to Madison that night along with the show’s crew. Packard and his wife, Deb, were staying for a few days to soak up the city and catch some Broadway shows.

Packard, 70, died Monday at a New York City hospital after being hospitalized the day after the show. He was scheduled to be released last Thursday before taking a turn for the worse.

The cause of death has not been confirmed, but Packard reportedly suffered from cardiopulmonary disease.

Feldman said “his lung function had been decreasing visibly for the past six to eight months,” but Packard was determined to make the trip to New York. “He wanted to do the New York show despite the obstacles he faced getting there.”

Feldman said Packard used an oxygen tank – “his Darth Vader thing” – backstage but worked without it when on stage.

On that last show, Feldman said, Packard “hit all his cues as always” but was “noticeably slower in his delivery. A couple times, I stepped on his line because I thought he was done.”

One Comment
  1. mark permalink
    June 20, 2012 10:34 PM

    Jim’s presence on the airwaves will be missed. I know for me, he made radio listening special, with a voice and delivery that almost seemed musical.

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