Cover photo for James Howard Wareham's Obituary
James Howard Wareham Profile Photo
1951 James 2018

James Howard Wareham

October 9, 1951 — December 14, 2018

Jim Wareham, who has died at the age of 67, was an eminent broadcaster who has left an indelible print upon his industry and those who knew him.  A lifetime man of the media, he had gone from being the manager of his college radio station at Loyola Chicago, to being the general manager of a number of television stations, culminating with a distinguished tenure as the general manager of Valley News Live in Fargo, North Dakota.              The middle child of three, with an older brother Robert and younger brother, William, he was born James Howard Wareham in Chicago to Howard Wareham, an Episcopalian of English descent and a Battalion Chief in the Fire Department and Marjorie Wareham (nee Hussey), a Catholic of Irish descent, on the city’s south side. From an early age he was very invested in and in love with the media. Whether it was watching WGN TV, a love which started with classic children's shows such as Garfield Goose with Frasier Thomas or listening to music on WLS-AM, the media was always near and dear to his heart.  Beside a love of media he was also fascinated by trains as a child and this would be an important part of his life in the many years to come.  Life in Chicago was a good, solidly middle class upbringing where he enjoyed accompanying his Irish grandfather “Pa” to the bar where he, himself, could have a “small beer.” He also found no end of outlets to get into trouble with as children did so often in that era.  His interests were always dominated by his love of the media and trains.             After attending community college for a time, he met and married Candace (nee Lent), to whom he was married for 47 years.  At this time he became a delivery driver for UPS, an occupation he was always proud of, primarily serving Gary, Indiana and East Chicago.  Knowing he wanted more, and could do better for himself he enrolled at Loyola University of Chicago which proved to be fundamental to his career development, allowing him to engage in a degree in Communications and allowing him the prize of early career experience becoming the General Manager of the university’s radio station, WLUW-FM.             During his time as a student at Loyola he also had the chance to work at WXRT-FM, a serious rock station, to which he often annoyed his fellows by referring to the station simply as “XRT.”  Though controversial then, his early use of the diminutive has now become standard practice.  He also had the pleasure of working as a newsroom desk associate at the Chicago Tribune.  A highlight was manning the information phone system on August 16th 1977 and informing a great many distraught and hysterical callers that Elvis Presley, was in fact, dead.  Finally, his time at school also saw him enjoy the experience of being an on-air talent at WMET-FM. It was there he learned to intro music and conduct breaks.  This was a skill he would often use in casual situations, performing the radio DJ to any who happened to be near when music was played.             Upon graduation he embarked upon a series of jobs beginning as a sales associate in Springfield, Illinois, where he and his wife had their first son, Mitchell.  From there, they moved from market to market as he attempted to find a place where he truly could use his talents and grow them to fruition. Through cities such as Champaign, Illinois, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Rockford, Illinois, where he had a second son, Philip, he continued honing his skills.  At last he had put in the hours and the footwork to land a job as a National Sales Representative at Katz Television in Chicago, Illinois.  Working in the city was a pleasure to him and he made many friends in the city and many contacts that would last his life.  Despite the heady aspects of working downtown, his office overlooking the city had a floor to ceiling wall which always kept him and his desk five feet away from it at all times.             After this he finally found his way into management at the local level, a responsibility he would carry with him for the rest of his career.  Becoming a General Sales Manager at WHBF-TV in the Quad Cities, he developed the managerial style that would become his signature in the future.              While many people have suggested that they have an open door policy, Jim truly did, and there was not a place he worked at where this was not taken advantage of, as he was always ready and willing to help and listen to his employees, seeing this as an important aspect of management.              It was at his next job, as General Sales Manager at KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, that Jim really crystallized his appreciation and understanding of the basic function of television, that being to not only entertain but to serve the market.  During his time there he was in charge of a massive relief effort for the Great Flood of 1993 that had caused great destruction in the market.  His efforts led to robust relief efforts and monies raised to help the community.  It was something he would carry with him in all his jobs to come.              From there he would go on to being a General Manager, first at WTVM-TV in Georgia.  He would then become Station Manager at WSEE-TV in Erie, Pennsylvania and would then have a brief stint as a General Sales Manager at Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He was then asked by his company to become the General Manager of WLAJ-TV in Lansing, Michigan were he was not afraid to try for change and introduced to the market a concept of “News Express” which had 10 minutes of news and then local affair programming.  The local affairs was a concept he would employ again with much greater success in Fargo, North Dakota.             After his years in Lansing he took a job in Idaho Falls, Idaho where he shepherded the station KIDK-TV until it’s eventual shuttering, a few years later.             It was at this point he took on the leadership of Valley News Live, consisting of not only one station, but many, KVLY-TV and KXJB-TV as well as a CW affiliate and a handful of smaller affiliations.  He left a definitive stamp on the greater Fargo-Moorhead market as said in the words of his company Gray television, “In 2011, when Jim arrived as General Manager of KVLY 11 (NBC) and KX4 (CBS), the stations were a distant second and third in the ratings. For the past few years, due in large part to Jim’s leadership, Valley News Live has become the undisputed market leader.” He did not accomplish this by accident but did so by remembering all the lessons he had learned in the past.  That the viewer mattered, that the local market mattered and that in providing a public service, what he did was important to many.             With his forty plus years experience in broadcast, and his general experience in life, he learned, as well, what mattered to him.  As he often said, “What is always most important in your life, is what you leave in your wake.” He was always available to those he knew and had known along his entire path, whether employees or friends from long ago, there was not a person in his orbit, no matter how far away, he would not spare time nor care for.  He will be missed. Friends will be received 5-8 pm Thursday January 3, 2018 at Redmond Funeral Home, 4100 S. Westnedge Ave.  Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (269) 343-6156. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10 am Friday at St. Augustine Cathedral, Kalamazoo. Interment will be in Portage South Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the National Railroad Museum.   *Luncheon at Bravo's following burial service.
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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, January 3, 2019

5:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, January 4, 2019

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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