You would not likely know the name Tony Ardovino. But you would know the voice if you've listened to the radio in the greater Montgomery or Birmingham markets.
You might also know his on-air radio personality names. In Montgomery, starting in the 1970s, Tony Ardovino was "Jay St. John" during the golden era of rock and roll on WHHY radio (AM and FM)—a top jock on the top rock station.
Those in the greater Birmingham market might know him as "Jay Michaels" on country music's WZZK 104.7 FM until retirement. It is the flagship station for the famous "Rick & Bubba Show."
The voice went silent on January 15 as Tony Ardovino died at a too-young 73 after a seven-year battle with cancer.
A celebration of life for Tony "Jay Michaels" will be held on Tuesday, January 30, from 4 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham.
Tony lived in Shelby County's Helena during his last years. He had graduated from Birmingham's John Carroll Catholic High School.
His career on radio and in television commercials spanned 40 years in Montgomery and Birmingham.
His lifelong love of music was not just on the air. He learned to play drums at a young age and continued banging away. He was the drummer of the Townsman Band.
Tony wanted to give back to his community, so he served as a Jefferson County Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff. In death, he continues to serve, asking those wanting to remember him to make donations to the American Cancer Society.
A radio friend in Montgomery, Rad Dodson, made this post on Facebook Thursday:
"If you listened to WHHY around 1973, you might have remembered hearing Jay St. John. His real name was Tony Ardovino. In Birmingham, he was Jay Michaels on WZZK. Tony passed away the first of the week from COVID/Pneumonia/kidney failure. He was a great DJ, a very fun-loving guy who beat cancer. Me, being 67, am losing old friends it seems like weekly. Please keep his family in your prayers, and most importantly, be right with the Lord daily. Rock and Roll up there, Tony!!!
Don Dailey, longtime host of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” made this post Thursday:
Rest in peace ‘Jay Michaels.’ He and I worked together at WZZK Radio in Birmingham for all of my 21 years there. Jay was a giant in broadcasting, a true pro, extremely funny and personable. I’m better for having known Jay."
Troy Pennington, longtime engineer for Cox Radio and major stations in Nashville, posted, "We will miss you, Jay. Thanks for all the memories and fun we had together in radio. You will forever remain in our hearts. You were a great friend not only in radio but in life. Tony Ardovino (Jay Michaels), go rest in peace now. You are remembered as one of the best. By the way, say hello to all our WZZK family members who are there greeting you today."
Ted Kinsler, "Smilin' Ted," of Greenville, South Carolina posted, "I just got some very sad news from an old friend in Birmingham, Alabama. Our mutual friend and Alabama radio legend, Jay Michaels has passed away. Jay was one of the best story-tellers I ever knew. He had a way of relating tales that would have you in stitches every time. And man, did he ever carry around a treasure trove of stories from his years in the business."
"The world's gonna miss you, old friend. I certainly do. Godspeed, you Italian stallion!" he added.
Tony Ardovino broadcasted on some big stations with tall towers. Now, he is operating from the tallest tower of all.
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