James Wright

James Wright, host of Monday Morning Classics, began in radio as a teenager in his home town of Asheville, NC hosting a high school show on a local station. By age 17 he was employed full time as an announcer at the NBC outlet. By the time he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he had worked for five stations in the two Carolinas.

Following college, Jim spent the next eight years as a jet fighter pilot flying the F-86 Saber Jet and the F-104 Starfighter. Five of those years were on active duty with the Air Force and three were with the Tennessee Air National Guard. While in the air guard he worked as a writer-reporter for the NBC television station in Knoxville.

In late 1962 when the faceoff between newly-elected President John Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev erupted into the building of the Berlin Wall followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis, Air National Guard and Air Force reserve units were quickly activated. Recalled to active duty in early November, Jim was standing combat alert at Ramstein AB Germany by mid-December, leaving a wife and three month old daughter behind in Tennessee.

"Our job was to keep the Frankfurt-Berlin air corridor open. If the East Bloc attempted to close it, we were to go in and reopen it by force if necessary. Fortunately it never came to that."  Returning home ten months later Jim was offered a job at WSM-TV Nashville. He took the job but before moving to Nashville, decided to try Washington DC, where he was hired as a reporter by CBS Channel 9 and its all-news radio station WTOP.

Two years later, with the airlines coming off of a hiring freeze, he went to work as a pilot for Pan Am in New York. That job lasted 21 years until 1986 when United Airlines bought parts of Pan Am. Jim says, "When United bought Pan Am's Pacific Division, they bought me." He spent the next eight years flying United's international routes.

Jim says, "I am listed as having been with WMNR since 1982. That is sort of true, but many of those years I was nowhere near the station having been based with the airlines, not only in New York, but also Miami, Washington, San Francisco, and Honolulu. Even now I split the year between Connecticut and Florida. I do not permanently host a time slot. What I really am is the longest running fill-in broadcaster the station has had."


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