April 15, 1926 – March 23, 2016
James “Jim” Roselle, a radio broadcaster who hosted many shows on WJTN in Jamestown during a career that spanned 61 years, died Wednesday in WCA Hospital. He was 89.
Born in Jamestown, one of seven children, he was a 1944 graduate of Jamestown High School and a 1949 graduate of St. Lawrence University, where he was a play-by-play broadcaster for the school’s baseball, football and basketball games.
He began his radio career in Harrisburg, Pa., and returned to Jamestown in 1953. In recent years, he hosted “The Jim Roselle Show” from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on WJTN and co-hosted “The Times of Your Life” on Saturday mornings with Russ Dietrick.
Known for his conversational interviews, he did live broadcasts from Chautauqua Institution for 41 summers, beginning in 1974, and spoke with many major figures who appeared there, including then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, comedian Mark Russell, primatologist Jane Goodall, comedian Lucille Ball and television journalist Tim Russert.
Early in his career, he hosted sock hops for teens. In 1986, he broadcast from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., during an appearance by the Jamestown High School Marching Band.
“Jim was an incredible ambassador for our region, as his gentle nature, combined with a sharp mind, found a way to tell the stories and bring out the best in everyone he interviewed,” said Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan. “We are a better community because of Jim’s wonderful life with us.”
“Jim has touched no only the lives of our listeners over his 61-year career with WJTN, but has also touched the hearts of anyone he has ever worked with in our hallways,” Media One Group station manager Rick Brodowski said.
“He was a gentleman that always made people feel involved in the conversation, whether it was one of his scheduled guests or someone he just met.”
WJTN plans to feature highlights from Mr. Roselle’s career in radio specials in the coming weeks and will continue its summertime broadcasts from Chautauqua Institution.
Mr. Roselle was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2010. He served for many years on the board of the Lucille Ball Little Theatre and performed in several plays. He also was a board member of the James Prendergast Library and the Jamestown Boys & Girls Club.
In 2014, he published a memoir, co-written with Walt Pickut, titled “The Best Times of My Life – Sixty Years with a Microphone and a Cup of Happiness at WJTN and Chautauqua Institution.”
Survivors include his wife of 40 years, the former Kathleen Billgren; two daughters, Julie D’Angelo and Mary Jane; a son, James; a stepdaughter, Annette Lundsten; two stepsons, Phillip Nalbone and Thomas Nalbone; a sister, Anna Paterniti; five grandchildren; four stepgrandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in St. James Catholic Church, 33 Allen St.
– Dale Anderson