A fixture on local public radio who shared his love of jazz with generations was killed Sunday night driving home to Greenville after his weekly broadcast.
Tom “The Jazzman” Mallison of Williamsburg Drive was killed about 11:30 p.m. on N.C. 43 near Vanceboro, according to Charles Wethington, president and general manager of WTEB in New Bern.
Mallison, 75, was returning from his weekly broadcast of “An Evening with Tom the Jazzman” when the wreck occurred, Wethington said. He hosted the five-hour show on Sundays since the station’s beginnings in 1984
George Olsen, host of the evening All Things Considered news broadcast, broke the news to listeners. Olsen, who also hosts a five-hour musical broadcast called The Sound, had worked with Mallison since 1987.
“The suddenness of his passing has stunned all of us at Public Radio East,” Olsen said. “If there is solace, it is in the fact that shortly before his death he was doing what he loved to do: sharing the music that was his passion his whole life with an audience wanting to hear more. Music is a great joy to so many people. Tom shared his joy with radio audiences for well over 30 years. Certainly it was a life well-lived.”
The State Highway Patrol reported that Mallison was driving a 2002 Volvo north on the highway near Clark Road just north of Vanceboro. A 2001 Dodge pick-up drifted into his lane, and the vehicles collided head-on.
Mallison died at the scene and the driver of the pickup was flown to Vidant Medical Center, Trooper S.M. Casner said. The man was badly injured and was not carrying any identification, Casner said.
Officials had not been able to positively identify the man Monday night, Casner said. What caused him to enter Mallison’s lane also remains under investigation.
Mallison was a lifelong Greenville resident. He graduated from J.H. Rose High School and East Carolina University and worked at E.I. Dupont in Kinston. He was an ardent supporter of the university.
Before his show with WTEB, he broadcast with WOOW AM in Greenville and WITN FM. During An Evening with Tom the Jazzman, he interspersed the music with wit and wisdom garnered from more than 40 years in broadcasting, according to an ECU News Services story published in 2009 when Mallison donated his albums to Joyner Library.
The collection includes thousands of LP jazz recordings that he accumulated since the age of 12, the article said.
It spans wide variety of jazz sub-genres from ragtime and Dixieland to fusion.
Known as the “TomtheJazzman Collection,” it offers an “appreciation for the art that is jazz music,” Larry Boyer, dean of Academic Library and Learning Resources, said in 2009.
A 1966 ECU graduate, Mallison also served a number of university support organizations, including as Chair of the Robert Wright Student Government President’s Society. The East Carolina Alumni Association recognized his dedication to the university with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1998.
WTEB reported that Mallison’s efforts to promote jazz have won him recognition from the nationally distributed Jazz Week as well as being a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Contact Bobby Burns at email@example.com and 252-329-9572.