Jim Runyon was loved by his radio audience and was known for playing the many love songs of the late 60's and early 70's in his evening time slot. There was many a teenaged girl listening to him every night, and falling asleep to his signature sign-off song, " Good Night My Love" and his signature closing: " from a Runyon named Jim."
Runyon was born in West Virginia and grew up in Williamson, where his father owned a furniture store. He had an early interest in radio and started out as a janitor at a radio station in Welch, West Virginia. When the station's regular announcer did not arrive for work one Saturday morning, Runyon convinced the station manager to let him go on the air. This worked out to be a regular air shift for him until it was learned that he was only thirteen years old. The state's Child Welfare Department intervened, and Runyon had to leave the airwaves until his fourteenth birthday.
Runyon worked at several radio stations in West Virginia before serving in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was initially a correspondent but became a Marine recruiter assigned to the Miami, Florida area. While in Miami as a recruiter, Runyon also became part of a Marine unit there doing radio and television public service announcements. The unit included Ed McMahon, later of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Following his discharge in 1951, he went to work at WLW in Cincinnati. From 1954 to 1961, Runyon worked in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, prior to his joining station KYW in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1965, he moved to WCFL in Chicago. Runyon was the narrator (the "weeeellll" voice) of the Chickenman series which began on his program at WCFL in Chicago in 1966; Runyon also played several parts in the show. He rejoined what became WKYC in October 1969, replacing Specs Howard on the morning show and kept the position when the station became WWWE in 1972.
Runyon announced his resignation from WWWE on March 15, 1973, because of health concerns. Runyon had been frequently hospitalized and told WWWE management to look for a replacement, as he doubted he would be able to return to the air. Weeks later, he died of leukemia at the age of 42. He was survived by his wife, actress Jane Roberts, who had performed with him in Chickenman, their daughter Jennifer Runyon (born 1960), a film and television actress, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage.
- The Man With the Golden Mike. TV-Radio Mirror. November 1963. p. 70. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- The Radio Annual-WELC Radio. Radio Daily. 1951. p. 699. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- Berk, Howard, ed. (2008). When My Boss Calls, Get the Name. iUniverse. p. 12. ISBN 9780595916344. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- WebMasters, Mike Olszewski (2002-03-04). "Cleveland Broadcast Radio Archives Project-Jim Runyon". Cleve-radio.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- "RadioRanch-How the Radio Serials, Chickenman and Toothfairy Were Born". Radio-ranch.com. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- "Bill Tash Collection audiofile-Jim Runyon aircheck-KYW-1965". Reelradio.com. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- Morrow, Larry, ed. (2010). This is Larry Morrow: My Life on and Off the Air. Gray & Company. p. 133. ISBN 9781598510690. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
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- "Danoday-Female voice on Chickenman question". Danoday.com. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- Jim Runyon Obit. Billboard. May 5, 1973. p. 30. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- Dyer, Bob, ed. (2007). The Top 20 Moments in Cleveland Sports: Tremendous Tales of Heroes and Heartbreaks. Gray & Company. p. 137. ISBN 9781598510300. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- Description of Jim Runyon by Harry Martin, fellow KYW DJ at the Wayback Machine (archived July 28, 2011)