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  • Writer's pictureDavid Jacobs

Remembering the Legacy of Radio Icon Jim Ladd

The world saw the passing of a radio legend on Dec 16th, 2023. Jim Ladd died of a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles.

This hit hard for me because Ladd is one of the primary reasons I fell in love with radio and because of that enduring love I find myself where I am today as a Voiceover Artist.

Even in the 70s when FM rock radio was freer than it is today, Jim Ladd was an innovator. He was the pioneer of "Freeform Radio" in which DJs played what they wanted free from restriction or playlists. This was a radical idea at the time, even more so today. Jim would love to create sets of music in a particular theme and mix that with his own commentary, thus creating a story. To Ladd, radio was an art form. This is why he is so revered among his peers and fans.

He interviewed every big rock band you can think of and he was the inspiration for two different rock albums. Rodger Water's The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking features as narrator throughout the record, and that was Jim Ladd. He even went out on tour with Waters to play the part live on stage. Tom Petty wrote The Last DJ specifically about Ladd.

To me, Jim Ladd was my friend on the radio. This was the style when dj's could be real, human and authentic. A real connection with the audience was paramount, not a fake or manufactured one. That's what hooked me. These DJs were so real and personal, you felt like they were talking directly to you. And what are we trying to do as voiceovers but be real, authentic and talk directly to one person? That's why I say my Voiceover journey stems from this time, my love of radio and the influence of these DJs.

So rest in peace Jim Ladd. You will be sorely missed by so many. Thank you for all the years of incredible radio. Thank you for your boldness, innovation and sharing your authentic self, which has given me such inspiration.

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