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Veteran Michigan Broadcaster Jim Higgs Dies

May 10, 2024


Jim Higgs

RadioInk reported this past Tuesday (5/7) that legendary Kalamazoo broadcaster Jim Higgs has passed away following an illness at age 79.  The publication notes that Higgs is remembered for his tireless six-decade passion for radio, his memorable voice, and for being the Music Director that led to the Eagles’ first number-one single.

Higgs’ career started early in 1962 at WDMC-AM near the Kalamazoo River. His talent quickly became evident, leading to a significant role at WHTC-AM/FM in Holland the following year.

In 1967, Higgs moved to WKMI-AM in Kalamazoo where he made his mark as News Director, Program Director, Music Director, and morning drive on-air personality.

In 1974, Higgs played a pivotal role in The Eagles’ success by driving a grassroots campaign for the single “Best of My Love” – when the label and the band were initially against it – which helped the song become the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 number one.

Despite initial reluctance from Glenn Frey to release the song as a single, Higgs, who was also the music and program director at WKMI, started playing it shortly after the album “On the Border” was released in the spring of 1974. With listeners vastly preferring it over other singles from the album, Higgs notified Asylum Records of the track’s positive reception, leading to a test release of 1,000 copies in the Kalamazoo area. This successful test prompted the full release of “Best of My Love” as a single on November 5, 1974.

Jim Higgs at WAKV

Jim Higgs at WAKV in 2015 photo

In 1983, Higgs and several colleagues purchased WAOP-AM/FM (Otsego), which was rebranded as WQXC. After the dissolution of the owning corporation in 1993, Higgs took over the AM station, now WAKV-AM, and operated it from his home studio in Plainwell until his retirement in 2021, selling the station to a Grand Rapids-based operator.

Higgs received national attention again in January of 2015 when his station was the victim of one of the first known cyber ransom-ware attacks that encrypted the station's digital music and commercial libraries.

Beyond radio, Higgs was deeply involved in his community, serving on the Plainwell City Council and actively participating in local historical and genealogical societies.

Higgs is survived by his wife, children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. A celebration of life is being planned, with details to be announced.


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