This was an incredibly hard and shocking weekend for me and I literally had to take a few steps back and reflect on several things.
There are a few people, who shall remain nameless, in this industry who could drop dead tomorrow and everybody would say “Who’s buying drinks?” Jam was not one of those people. I’ve never seen her throw “diva” antics or mistreat people for fun or walk around like she deserved respect that she didn’t earn. She was a legitimate industry gem.
She was kind, thoughtful, and easy to talk to and a joy to be around but she also KNEW how to program. We had MANY conversations about the industry and more and how much she LOVED programming. She would tell me about her strategies to find work and how she wanted to live in LA over the years.
Jam even did an interview for me for one of the Women of Color in Media magazines when she was on the beach and I told her to try a few other things.
She invited me to a Jazz festival at KJLH, after she got the job programming there, and even though I once worked there, I’ve rarely been able to make their events over the years but I made sure I went to this one because she had just gotten into town and she asked me to come and I wanted to see her.
She treated me like a King at the event and everybody at the station LOVED her. Everywhere she worked people loved her. The flow of KJLH was better than ever and it was finally on its way to success … then she was gone. I asked her what happened and she simply told me she was working on a few other projects. I let it go.
I had not talked to her in a few months but was about to call her about some of her gospel music this week. Then I got a text early this past Sunday morning before leaving LA for a trip that she had died. I had to read the message several times to make sure my eyes were not playing tricks on me.
This seemed so surreal. The entire day was surreal. I could not grasp that she was gone. By the next day, it all started to make sense, why she probably left KJLH and her coming to LA. She had been dealing with colon cancer for 4 years and kept it very quiet. You would have never known anything was wrong and I have known many people who were sick before they passed but I never said a word. This was not one of those cases.
Knowing Jamillah, she didn’t want anyone to worry about her and she wanted to continue being productive. So she continued building her own company and legacy.
I am still pretty much devastated by her death. I’ve announced MANY, MANY, MAAAAAAAANY deaths in Radio Facts over the years and trust me when I tell you it takes its toll on you and it’s exhausting.
I do not like being the grim reaper reporter and would rather report more uplifting news but then again, sometimes death IS uplifting. It’s a reminder that it’s not enough to be ALIVE if you are not LIVING.
In our black industry culture, which prefers to play it “safe” than to promote our achievements, this situation puts the brakes on everything.
We have to dig deep to find positivity in the nooks and crannies of so much negative shyt that we see in the world right now but I just want to say to my industry brethren Live, Do and BE! Stop waiting and if it’s no longer fun, whatever it is, stop doing it because time waits for no one and is not guaranteed. Rest well Jam. It was a pleasure to know you.