Tomorrow is Opening Day in Cincinnati. The official start of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season has been an unofficial civic holiday for decades. [Back in my day, the Reds, the oldest team in the majors (founded in 1869), used to open the season a day before any other team… ]

It’s a big deal, with a lot of pomp and ceremony, including an Opening Day Parade organized by the merchants at Findlay Market, a public market that’s been around longer than the Reds have.

This year’s Honorary Grand Marshal will be Jim Scott, a Cincinnati radio legend. It’s a fitting honor, as Jim has participated in the Opening Day parade for 56 years, usually walking the entire route and smiling, waving, and high-fiving folks along the way.

Jim walking the parade route with his wife Donna

For Cincinnati Baby Boomers, Jim has been part of the soundtrack of their lives, starting in 1968 at WSAI, an AM station that played pop music, brought the Beatles to Cincinnati, and garnered nearly 50% of the radio audience back then. He moved to WLW-AM in 1984, as the morning host, and stayed in that time slot until 2015. If you’re keeping score at home, the final tally is nearly 47 years in Cincinnatians’ ears.

But this year will be different for Jim. In the Spring of 2022, he was diagnosed with ALS. He went public with the news last year.

I had the privilege of working with Jim, as his morning show producer, back in the mid-90s. At a station with a bunch of talk radio blowhards, Jim was the friendly voice who started your day with a smile. Among a subset of the staffers, he caught a lot of flak for being “too nice.” But I worked with Jim long enough to know that his radio personality wasn’t shtick, it was just a heightened version of Jim. WLW-AM was part of a radio conglomerate that owned 8 stations in the market (if you’re looking for Reason #1 of why I got out of radio, consolidation is the correct answer.) Jim did more charity work than the rest of the on-air personalities at all the stations, combined. Charity auctions. Golf outings. Fundraisers of all sorts. And if there was a speaker’s fee, Jim donated it back to the charity. Sure, all those public appearances helped his name recognition and his ratings. But that’s not why he did it. He did it because he truly was, and is, a nice guy.

In the March issue of Cincinnati Magazine, Steven Rosen wrote a nice feature about Jim’s decades-long involvement with the parade, and his positive attitude in the face of one of the cruelest fatal diseases. Check it out at the link above.

“Being in the parade to me will be a statement that I’m not going to quit. I’ll probably be in a wheelchair, but I probably won’t be the only person there in a wheelchair.”

Jim Scott, in the article linked above

This parade may be the last chance for us to show some love to Jim Scott. He deserves every smile, wave and cheer we’ve got. It shouldn’t be a somber send-off; it’s a victory lap.

Legendary baseball player and manager Leo Durocher famously said “nice guys finish last.” Leo got it wrong in this case, because Jim Scott is the people’s champ.

Illustration by Remi Geoffroi for Cincinnati Magazine

Right now on the Findlay Market home page, there’s a link where you can send a message to Jim.

If you know Jim, please do so. Actually do it even if you don’t know him.