Veteran WTMJ-AM (620) voice Jonathan Green announced this afternoon that he's retiring at the end of the year.
The announcement isn't a shocker, there have been rumblings for months that he would be ending some four decades at the station.
"This will be my last year of doing this at the State Fair," he said of doing his show Thursday from the fair. "I'm going to retire at the end of this year when my contract is up."
It may have been the sign of nerves on the day of the big announcement, but before offering his news, he reported at 5:05 p.m. that it was "3:05."
Green joined WTMJ in 1969, and other than a brief departure in the early 1980s, he's been at the station. The "Green House" has occupied one of the most important spots on the station, the 3 to 6 p.m. shift, for years.
Known as afternoon drive time, it's one of two "prime-time" slots for radio, targeting the crowd of people heading home from work.
UPDATE: Here's WTMJ news release announcing Green's retirement:
In making the announcement to listeners today at 5 p.m., Green explained that he chose to make the decision public before "The Green House" starts its final run at the Wisconsin State Fair (Aug. 5 - 15).
"The fair appearance is always a special way for me and for WTMJ Radio to personally connect with our listeners, and it'd be special if people stopped by to wave goodbye to me during our State Fair shows this year. Next year at the fair, I will be one of the goofs looking in instead of the goof looking out!" he said.
Green started at WTMJ on June 1, 1969. With the exception of a two-year period in the 1980s, he and "The Green House" have been fixtures in Milwaukee radio and familiar companions for hundreds of thousands oflisteners over the years who tuned in weekdays from 3-6 p.m.
"We are so very grateful to Jonathan for his service to our listeners, our advertisers and our community. Hisability to connect with listeners is unmatched, and he has been an important part of both WTMJ's heritage andour continued success," said Steve Wexler, Journal Broadcast Group's executive vice president - television and radio operations, who began his broadcast career under Green's tutelage.
"Jon allowed me, as a young Shorewood High School student intern back in 1976, to learn first-hand the power and responsibility of broadcasting. I'm especially grateful and proud of our long history together," he said.
Wexler added that plans for the afternoon drive time slot are under development for next year and will be announced at a later date.
Fortunately, Jon's timing gives us a chance to consider many options for thisimportant time period. Whatever we do, we'll make sure our programming is consistent with our mission as Wisconsin's news and sports leader."
What began as a hobby in 1962 while Green was a freshman at Cornell University became a career when he left school to pursue radio broadcasting. His first on-air job was reading English announcements during "The Polish Hour" at WERE Radio in Cleveland, Ohio. He later worked at WLEC in Sandusky, Ohio, before becoming theovernight announcer at Cleveland's WTVN Radio in 1965.
Green took to the airwaves for the American Forces Network (AFN) in Europe after joining the Army in 1966. In 1969, after reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant E-6 and receiving the Army commendation medal, he moved to Milwaukee and joined WTMJ Radio as an announcer.
Throughout his career with the station, he has been an avid supporter of the military, a Harley-Davidson and ski enthusiast, and an ardent advocate for children with the creation of the Teddy Bear Patrol and Christmas Kids 2 Kids collection programs.
In his announcement, Green pointed to turning 66 years old last month, "my required age for full company and government retirement benefits." He intends to continue working with many of the businesses for which he has provided endorsements over the years and will conduct sponsorship business, as well. Most importantly, he stresses, he will focus on spending time with family.
"Jonathan Green (my real name, by the way) is a fairly well-known name in this part of Wisconsin," he said in the announcement. "But along the way I found another name... one I like a whole lot better... one intended for me by my FATHER (the BIG one). It's the name I will hereafter pursue and delight in hearing when addressedto me. It's ‘Papa.'"
Jonathan Green used to be a personality that was a joy to talk to. About ten to fifteen years ago when WTMJ 620-AM decided that his entertainment show needed to be more right-wing, he began a barely concealed show that brought out his racist and bigoted side. I haven't been able to listen regularly since. I welcome his departure and believe it is long overdue.
Too bad 620-AM can't go back to middle-of-the-road shows and reporting that doesn't cater to the extreme right white listener. The days I used to enjoy Robb Edwards in the morning are long gone and the only thing that pulls me back to listen is Wisconsin Badger Football, Green Bay Packer Football, and from time-to-time, Milwaukee Brewers Baseball.
Otherwise I'm just sick of the dividing nature of that station along with WISN 1130 AM.
Goodbye, Jonathan. It seems like ten years ago I said those words.
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