Sundays from noon to 3 p.m., EST, will never be the same. Because a lot of people from New Jersey — and New York, and other locations around the world — tuned in religiously at that time to listen to two of the funniest radio personalities in the business on the free form radio station WFMU (91.1 FM, Jersey City): The always sardonically funny and occasionally cantankerous co-hosts of “The Glen Jones Radio Programme, featuring X. Ray Burns.”
X. Ray Burns (né Kenneth Green) died of cancer on Feb 10.
He went out in his own inimitable way, dying at home while his co-host was on the air. This put Jones in the unenviable position of having to announce his partner’s passing live, while expressing his concern and apologies to those whom he would have preferred to tell in person.
X. Ray Burns was a hilarious, larger-than-life character, who, along with Jones, co-hosted an amazingly magical, sometimes tempestuous Radio Show. They had a very Jersey-centric sense of humor, often referencing Taylor ham, White Rose System and “The Shore.”
Reached for a comment, WFMU general manager Ken Freedman said: “Glen and X. Ray were a one-of-a-kind radio team. They brought humor, nihilism and sweet friendship to the worst day of the week for 30 years. X. Ray’s catchphrases will be echoing off the walls of WFMU for years: ‘Science!’ ‘Wild!’ ‘Brooklyn Zoo!’ ”
Loyal listener Brianne Diomede of Point Pleasant said: “Glen and X. Ray’s show was more than just radio. It was classic New Jersey at its finest, coming through two classic people who were the perfect vehicle for carrying the bizarre yet familiar to the masses. I’ll miss X. Ray’s friendship through Facebook; he always took the time to like a sunrise picture, or would send prayers when someone was ill. Once he took the time to send me a link about a beach in Russia that was loaded with beautiful sea glass. He was a kind man who will be missed deeply in our house. Even my teenage daughter who didn’t listen that much says she’ll miss him. He was just such a part of our radio listening. There will never be another X. Ray.”
Jones now faces the prospect of carrying on his free form show while missing his cohort and partner-in-crime of some 30 years. Something tells this writer that X. Ray’s mad spirit of fun and misadventure will carry on in Jones’ heart, as he continues to carry the flame for the greatest radio comedy team since (George) Burns & (Gracie) Allen.
If you never heard the duo, their work is archived at wfmu.org.
(March 25 Update: WFMU will present “The Kill X. Ray Burns Memorial Party” — a live broadcast of The Glen Jones Radio Programme Featuring X. Ray Burns, with performances by Holmes and Reno’s Men — April 14 at noon at Monty Hall in Jersey City. There is a $5 suggested donation. Visit montyhall.ticketfly.com.)
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to a GoFundMe campaign to help them pay the bills for his medical treatment (gofundme.com/