RICHMOND, Va. -- If you were a country music radio fan in Richmond, Virginia in the 1980s and 90s, chances are you knew the voice of Jim "Catfish" Metzger.
Metzger, a Vietnam veteran, was 79.
"He made a mark on the Richmond community -- really did," said K95 Program Director and Afternoon Drive Host Garret Doll. "He lived, ate, and breathed the K95 Country lifestyle and that's what Richmonders were attracted to. And they loved him for it. And they embraced him."
Doll said Metzger was on the station's airwaves for nearly three decades, a stretch that is rare in the radio business.
"He started with K95 at a small studio in Hopewell and then they moved to the arboretum and then to the studio that we're in now. So, he basically built K95."
Doll said after learning of his passing, he and Metzger's longtime co-host, Lori Kelly, went through old clips of the two as she reminisced.
"Every day she said she loved coming to work and being surprised at what he was going to say next. She loved his outlook on helping people, the community," added Doll. "Lori was telling me yesterday that that was she thought she was the hardest worker in the room. She would show up at the station and Catfish was already here. He'd already been here for an hour. He'd already been making sure he'd gone through all the prep, making sure he had the right stories for everybody to talk about. He was a machine and he was always here first thing in the morning. He beat everybody in and he always wanted to make sure that he was serving Richmond right."
Doll said Metzger's impact resonated even after he retired in 2016 (after which Doll joined the station) as his name would come up at public events.
"The first thing somebody will come up and say is, 'I listened to Catfish growing up, Catfish and Lori every morning. It's what we did.' And even kids will come up and say, 'My parents listened to Catfish and Lori. And that's how I grew up.'," said Doll.
One longtime listener, Mark Abrams, told CBS 6 he always had K95 on in his engraving business on Broad Street.
"Something really appealing about the way he came across and just enjoyed it. We liked the music and we'd like to listen to him and Lori," said Abrams. He added he took part in a stunt over two decades ago with Catfish where he said he would walk backwards from his business (near Scott's Addition) to Staples Mill Rd. wearing a costume to raise money for Make-a-Wish in order to get tickets to a Hank Williams, Jr. concert. "He was a very, very friendly person. You couldn't talk to him for a half a minute without him smiling and laughing."
Abrams added he and Metzger also shared a love for boating.
As for his long-term legacy, Doll said that will in part live on through the station's Country Fest which he said started as an idea from Metzger.
"K95 Country Fest, kind of, began as an idea because Catfish loved Texas. He was a huge Texas fan and just wanted to bring a festival-type atmosphere that he was used to in Texas and bring it up here," said Doll, who added it would also live on in the memories of fans like Abrams. "Catfish was a legend in radio in general and here in Richmond and he will be missed."
Metzger's memorial will be on Friday. The family is asking in lieu of flowers for people to donate to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
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