WATERTOWN — A longtime north country resident and beloved employee of both WWNY-TV and Z93 radio, Jeffrey T. Shannon, died Wednesday morning due to complications from COVID-19.
He was 56.
Mr. Shannon was the director of marketing and promotions for WWNY-TV, also known as 7 News, and the host of “Z93wind” at the radio station. He had been in the positions for decades and would have marked his 33rd year with 7 News in March.
Jay Donovan, market manager for Stevens Media Group in Watertown, which oversees Z93, said Mr. Shannon loved doing his radio show, staying at the station all hours of the night or sometimes overnight to get things ready for it.
“He was a very caring guy, very loving — that’s why it’s such a loss,” Mr. Donovan said. “This just totally has blown the station away. We’re very fortunate to have spent time with him. He made it a better place.”
Over the course of his career, Mr. Shannon did nearly every job one could do at a TV station, according to a story published Wednesday by 7 News.
Eric O. Krebs, vice president and general manager at 7 News, has known Mr. Shannon for the past few years and wrote the initial statement to notify the public of his death after the station was made aware of the news.
“It took me a long time to encompass who this man was because anything from leading a group of Cub Scouts through the station to give them tours to working career fairs — he just was really passionate about broadcasting across all mediums,” Mr. Krebs said. “All I can say is that Jeff was just a jolly person, very happy; just a joy to be around. He’ll be irreplaceable here at the station.”
Mr. Krebs shared that due to his radio show, Mr. Shannon would be recognized often — not by his face, but by his distinct voice. He noted that when his kids first met Mr. Shannon, they immediately recognized the voice they’d heard on the radio.
“The passing of Jeff Shannon has been a blow for I think everyone who has worked closely with Jeff, we all just got our wind punched out of us,” said John H. Seymour, operations manager for 7 News. “He just was an incredible guy to work with and I will miss him on a personal level as well as a fellow work mate.”
Mr. Seymour knew him for 19 years, and remembers Mr. Shannon’s wealth of knowledge on topics like music and entertainment, likening him to a walking Trivial Pursuit game.
It was perhaps that love of entertainment that led Mr. Shannon to take part in a play Craig S. Thornton wrote called “The Sweet Life,” about an upstate New York family that owns a chocolate factory. Mr. Thornton, a playwright and director of communications for 7 News, has known Mr. Shannon for more than 20 years, and the two shared a tiny office for seven of them — possibly inspiring the character Mr. Shannon eventually portrayed on stage.
“As I was writing, I just couldn’t separate him from the part,” Mr. Thornton said. “Jeff played the chocolate loving sarcastic son. I don’t even think I had auditions for anybody else.”
While Mr. Thornton describes himself as a bit of a curmudgeon, he said Mr. Shannon was the exact opposite — sunny all the time.
Mr. Shannon is survived by his wife Donna and his children, Jordan and Brittany. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.