NIXON LOW CONNECTED WITH RADIO IN ALL FACETS
Nixon Low possessed a comic timing that relied on apparent absurdities, the ideal reflection of the radio industry he so effortlessly traveled through for most of his adult life. In an industry made up of characters who rely on stage names, Low referred to them by the names on their birth certificates.
"He would address you not in your nickname or your radio name, but your birth, given name because as he said, 'That's your real name,'" said longtime friend Anthony "the Mullet" Bernardini. "I always hated it, but after a while I accepted this as a sign of respect."
Low died last week at the age of 52 from the aggressive cancer sarcoma.
He had an ability to condense complexities. As UA football and men's basketball pregame hosts Rob Lantz, Brad Allis and I labored over the prospect of another three hours of analysis, Low would often walk into the studio just before air time and fill us in on his take. Arizona needs to score one more point than the other team. And ... they need to hold the other team to one point less than they score.
He'd deliver this edict regularly, with a committed tone that belied the obvious cliché. Then he would be on his way, likely summing up the gist of someone else's gig in one sentence or less.
Low shared those sports insights as recently as the NCAA tournament in March. By the end of April, he was gone.
Low shunned technology. To him, a Facebook account was a photo of his face on a book. An iPad was the letter "i" on a notepad. His television was from Montgomery Ward, circa 1995, because he said it broadcast in RD, regular definition, not that ridiculous high definition that defined everyone else's viewing habits in a flat-screen world. He didn't have Internet access at home.
"Hell, he used a cellphone that was over 10 years old because in his words, it had a cool flashlight feature," Mullet said. "When it finally gave out over a year ago, instead of upgrading to the newest and coolest smartphone, what does he do? He searches the Internet for the same damn phone."
But while the world around him transitioned from one gadget to the next, Low simply transitioned from one radio department to another. And therein was an undeniable strength. In a business where competing agendas often clash and where communicating—in an industry based on communication—seems like a forgotten art, Low was comfortable in every realm.
He was the longtime promotions director at Cumulus Tucson, and before that Citadel Broadcasting, and before that when Jim Slone owned the cluster of radio stations whose offices are near Roger and Oracle roads. And he was perfect for the job because he understood the importance of sales and on-air talent, and the need to occasionally act as the face of the entire radio group.
That's one of the reasons so many people knew Low. He was more than a conduit for remote broadcasts, which provide a healthy income stream for radio outlets. He was also a positive representative of the radio stations to members of the public who visited the booths. In the case of country station KIIM FM, a booth that often included a large inflatable cow.
It's why dozens of folks with local radio-industry ties—from Alan Michaels to Jim Bednarek to former DJ co-worker Slick to KIIM program director Buzz Jackson, as well as people he influenced in Phoenix and his hometown of San Diego, shared their favorite anecdotes about Low during a gathering last Thursday at Toby Keith's restaurant.
They'll participate again, in services scheduled this Saturday, May 11, at Tucson's Chinese Cultural Center.
"I valued his friendship," Mullet said. He was "always there to offer an ear, a helping hand, or a good laugh with his offbeat sense of humor. That's what I'm going to miss the most about him. He was loved by everybody."
GEORGE ACKNOWLEDGES HIS DEPRESSION
KOLD Channel 13 meteorologist Chuck George suffers from severe depression. That's what he shared with viewers in a story that aired on the station's 10 p.m. newscast last week. George, who has taken at least three lengthy leave of absences since 2010, told reporter Barbara Grijalva that his decision to make his condition public was an important step for him.
"I want to share the story for two reasons," George told her. "One is because I really need to heal myself. It's kind of a final process in what I'm going through. And another is because I want people to know that they're not alone. I thought I was alone for a long time. And I know I'm not now."
George said his genes played a role in the struggles he's endured.
"My family tree is full of suicide, of depression, of addiction," he said. "They're all interrelated and my family tree is just packed with it, and I never thought it would happen to me. And I wish that my parents hadn't died so young from depression and addiction."
George is also living with the negatives of making his condition public.
While this is the first time he has publicly acknowledged his depression, many of his lowest on-air moments are on display on websites such as YouTube.
But perhaps he can now put most that behind him, and use his position to help others dealing with a condition that isn't easily comprehended by friends and family.
"I just thought, 'Get over it. Get over it. You know you've got a great life. What's wrong with you?'" George said. "And people in my life would tell me that, too. And God, if I could I would," added George, who is the first in his family to get treatment for the condition. "I feel blessed. I also, to be honest, feel burdened. I didn't want this, but I have it."