Nixon Low, Tucson radio fixture, dies at 52

Friends have nothing but good things to say about day-brightener
2013-05-02T00:00:00Z 2013-05-02T14:04:49Z Nixon Low, Tucson radio fixture, dies at 52Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Many people performing wedding ceremonies reference the Bible.

Longtime Tucson radio personality Nixon Low quoted "Green Eggs and Ham."

He would perform the ceremony including the famous Dr. Suess story.

"He would say, 'By the power vested in me through Earth, Wind & Fire, Dr. Suess and the band Chicago, I pronounce you husband and wife,' " recalled his longtime friend and co-worker Kricket Jolliff on Wednesday, hours after Low died at University of Arizona Medical Center from an aggressive and rare form of cancer.

Low was 52 years old and had been hospitalized on and off since he was diagnosed in March with sarcoma. He was readmitted to UAMC earlier this week after developing complications from an early April surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, said his longtime colleague and friend Shannon Black of KIIM 99.5 FM's Max, Shannon & Porkchop morning show.

Black and her co-hosts made a tearful announcement of Low's death during Wednesday's show, and Facebook and Twitter tributes quickly began popping up, recalling Low's kindness and sense of humor.

Ironically, Low, a fixture on Tucson radio since the 1980s with DJ roles on KRQQ, KNST, KQYT, KFXX, KHYT and KWFM, eschewed social media and technology in general. He walked around Cumulus - where he was a promotions manager for KIIM and its four sister stations - carrying a legal pad with the letter "I" on it. He called it his iPad. A book with a picture of his face was his Facebook, and he refused to get a smartphone. He had the same basic phone for six years and got a new one only when the zero button broke off and he no longer could punch in the number with a pen.

"If you texted him once, he would text you back, and if you texted him a second time, he would call you," recalled KIIM Program Director and afternoon DJ Buzz Jackson.

"He was so clever, so nice. He had this gift of making everyone feel special. We all have bad days; I never saw Nixon have a single bad day," said Jolliff, who had known Low for 15 years.

Low became a certified ordained minister so that he could perform weddings for his friends, including for Jolliff's sister two summers ago, Jolliff said.

In January 2010, he performed an impromptu ceremony for co-worker Lynn Spasoff, the assistant business manager at Cumulus.

"It was the quickest engagement on record: 45 minutes," Spasoff said, recalling how her husband Scott proposed at a holiday party with her Cumulus co-workers and then they held the ceremony. "We did it on the landing of our staircase. (Low) brought everything in a metal briefcase. … He had a copy of 'Green Eggs and Ham,' his certificate that proved he was an ordained minister, and he referenced 'Grey's Anatomy' on a sticky note.

"It was one of the most unique experiences of my life, and he played a large part. To have one of my closest friends perform the ceremony was just another level of special."

"There's nobody who met Nixon who didn't like him," added Black, who knew Low since they worked together at KRQ more than 20 years ago. "He was the nicest, sweetest guy. If you were having a down day, he would make you feel better."

Friends who saw Low late Tuesday night said he made a point to tell them how much they affected his life.

"He was thanking all of us. It wasn't about him; it was about everyone else, how much we have done for his life," said Crystal Kasnof, a longtime close friend. "He said: 'You all have made my life so amazing. It was quite an honor to be there.' "

In addition to working in Tucson radio, Low, who went by the self-proclaimed nickname "Chinese Guy," worked three years at San Diego's KCBQ in the early 1990s.

He is survived by his mother in California and uncles, aunts and cousins in Tucson.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@azstarnet.com or 573-4642.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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