Born in New York City in 1934, Jim McLaughlin knew his love for the limelight as a teenager. After moving to Rochester, NY in 1946, he found his spotlight. Jim began playing the drums for a local band, acting in school plays and playing high school basketball. He attended
Alfred University in 1953 for Liberal Arts, then Parks College of St. Louis University in 1955 for Aeronautical Administration. He got a job at American Airlines where he received his pilot’s license at the early age of 19. In the late 1950s, Jim took his quick-witted personality and drove west to San Francisco with his brother to start a new life. He landed a job at Las Vegas Hacienda Airlines and when not working played the drums for a Dixieland band, and acted in Sausalito Playhouse, where he met his first wife.
After taking a three-week crash course in radio broadcasting at the Chris Borden School of Modern Radio Technique, Jim changed career paths in the early 1960s. He worked as a deejay for KNBA in Vallejo, California taking the air name “Lucky Jim” because he didn’t have to study and always knew instinctively what to say. He began delivering the news at KFOG-FM in San Francisco. In 1963, he married his fiance Norma and they moved back east. Jim became the news director at WRVM in Rochester in 1964. Jim, a veteran of the U.S. Army, continued his career working in Buffalo as the news director of WYSL in the late 1960s, WKBW from 1970 to 1978 and then at WBEN until he was forced to retire due to health issues in 1987.
Jim will be remembered not only for his “throwaway good looks” and flirtatious personality, but for being the first news director to hire a full-time street reporter, a female news staff member, to use co-anchors and to use short wave radio to cover international stories. In 1979, he won the New York State Associated Press Award for WBEN’s “Newsday,” being the best radio news program. Jim was also the only radio reporter allowed to cover the 1971 Attica Prison riot from inside the prison. Jim died November 21, 1993 after a lengthy illness at the age of 59.