Jim O'Brien

(1940-1983)


The man from Waco, Texas, who Philadelphia adopted, as one of their own. Jim came to town as a disc jockey, on WFIL, in 1970. He spent 6 years on the air,and then moved to television, to WPVI, channel 6, as a sportscaster. However, it wasn't long before Jim became the "greatest" weatherman, the Delaware Valley had ever seen! No one, not even station management knew what zany antics Jim would do on any given day. Who cared about the weather, as long as Jim told us about it. From "Good Guys In The North", to "Bad Humdingers In The South". Who had ever heard of "Casa Grande", in Philly, before Jim told us about it.

In addition to doing the weather, Jim also was the anchor of "Action News" at noon. This was after co-hosting "Dialing For Dollars" with Connie Roussin Spann  from 10am, til 11. Jim could talk about the "count, and amount", like no other. He also was the host of "Primetime", a magazine type show, that aired on Saturday nights. It was rumored that he even sang the show's theme song!

According to those who worked with him, Jim was the most intense, and serious person, they had ever met, dedicated to his own personal success, as well as the company he was working for.When working for WFIL, Jim would regularly visit other jocks, while they were on the air. If you weren't quite up to par, Jim would let you know about it.While some dissapproved, most knew he was right, and would try to improve. This helped make WFIL the number one station in Philadelphia.

Courtesy of Bruce Northwood

Courtesy of Bruce Northwood

As busy as he was, Jim still found the time to pursue two of his favorite hobbies, Motorcycle riding on his "Chrome Pony", and Skydiving. Jim along with his friend, and WPVI colleague, Steve Levy, (Now at NBC10) biked across the country on more than one occasion.

 

It was Jims' other hobby, Skydiving, that would prove to be the one that everyone would remember. On a warm September morning, in 1983, Jim decided to make one more jump. In an area near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Jim was practicing some "tandem" jumping, when something went terribly wrong. Jim noticed that another jumper was having a problem. Jim tried to help. During a "Freefall", he was able to untangle the other jumper's parachute, which allowed him to drift safely to earth. Tragically, it was too late for Jim to open his shute, and he fell to his death. Jim O'Brien died a hero, giving his own life, to save another.

The whole city of Philadelphia stopped. Shock, and disbelief were everywhere. How could this happen? Are you sure it was Jim? Questions that were on the mind of everyone, until we all heard it on "Action News" that evening. Jim was gone. September 25, 1983.  

Click here to hear a clip from Action News, on the evening of Jim's death. (Requries Realplayer)

Just Added Video !

The WPVI 11:00 News From September 25, 1983

Click Here To View

Video Encoding courtesy Of The Broadcast Pioneers Of Philadelphia

More WPVI Coverage Of The Death Of Jim O'Brien Now On YouTube

Thanks to a tip from Julius May, there is now video from WPVI's coverage on the death of Jim O'Brien. 

Here's The Link on "YouTube". Click below to view all available video!

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=476D90E34E86023E 

Jim O'Brien Airchecks

Here are three Airchecks of Jim, from his days at WFIL Radio.

1. 1971 

2. 1972

3.1974

Jim may be gone, but his legacy lives on in the minds of all of us. His daughter, Peri Gilpin, played "Roz Doyle" on the NBC sitcom, "Frasier".

Peri Gilpin
Peri Gilpin


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