I met Jessica Madison at a karaoke party I threw in St. Pete last year. It was a night of all 80s hairband songs so she came up with the name “Hair-eoke.” She and I had been tweeting back and forth but Jessica was the type who preferred the safety and anonymity of the internet to real life interaction. Had a friend of hers at the party not introduced us, she would have likely kept quiet in the background and never said a word to me. I would have missed out getting to know one of the most special people in my life. Jessica died yesterday after a fast painful battle with cancer. I’m angry, defeated and without the friend I was just starting to get to know.
As we get older, we lose touch with old friends and are less likely to make new ones. At least that’s the case with me. Jessica didn’t try to become a friend of the guy she listened to on the radio. She didn’t need to. Her twisted sense of humor and wit on Twitter drew me to her. When we met that night, she was taken aback by how I was a fan of hers. I’ll never forget this Instagram she posted the next day.
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This will probably be the one and only pic of myself you will ever see on Instagram (I’m on the right). But lemme tell you about the guy on the left. This pic is a 99% result of his idea for hair band karaoke, and my 1% idea for the name, “Haireoke.” Most fun I’ve had in a long, long time. I’ve met a small handful of the people that I listen to on the radio, and each of them has been very genuine, warm, and appreciative of the support. This guy is no exception. Wickedly funny, with a sharp wit that frequently flies over the head of many, he makes sure everyone around him is having a great time. He’s definitely a hugger. He’s also the type of guy that everyone should have a person in their life like him—encourages you to go outside of your comfort zone...I’m petrified of singing in front of people but he got me out there and we would have sung if we hadn’t run out of time (and I had drank earlier to get enough courage to do it). In a room full of people or an event packed to the roof, he’ll take the time to really interact with you, and not just do the schmoozing you expect at those functions. He greeted me like I was the famous one, and told me he found my tweets hilarious; that’s a huge honor to me, as that’s my sole goal when I tweet—to make people laugh. When I can make the people laugh that make ME laugh, it’s extremely gratifying. He’s a real, real guy and I’m glad to have made his acquaintance both virtually and actually. Even if you don’t listen to country, you ought to follow him on your social media of choice; chances are he’s on it. You won’t regret it and you’ll be highly entertained. Thanks for throwing this event, @wqykgeno ... I appreciate all you did Saturday and every day on Twitter...and I still owe you a song. And probably a drink too. ???????? (And hey to Candi in the middle...lol)
She’d always try to come to my radio station appearances. From time to time we’d do lunch. We’d send text messages back and forth trying to challenge the other to see who could make the other laugh harder with a more inappropriate comment. She’d always win.
Earlier this year, when I got to come back to Q105, Jessica went into beast mode trying to let the world know about it. I’m sure she exhausted all of her friends on social media plugging the Saturday Night Dance Party. But she would never call in and come on the air, except for one short call that first week I took over the show. As comfortable as she was with me, she never wanted to be in the spotlight. In fact, she’s probably angry with me right now for writing this. Sorry Jessica. The world needs to know about you. The world needs more people like you.
In the short time I got to know Jessica, I was happy to see her begin to appreciate herself. She loved her new job at the Hard Rock. She was slowly getting on her feet and bouncing back some financial trouble. Then a few weeks ago, she mentioned she wasn’t feeling well and because of the ridiculous state of our health care system, she was too scared to seek help. She waited until the pain was unbearable to see a doctor. And by then, it was probably too late.
Good mojo again please for today; appointment with po’ people doc to set a game plan for getting rid of this pain entirely, & for managing it so I can live somewhat normally in the meantime.— Lavoixinconnue (@lavoixinconnue) August 29, 2019
I’ll need y’all’s mojo one more time after this hopefully at surgery time. ???? Thanks.
I was hoping to see her at Freestyle Explosion last month. When I realized she wouldn’t be able to make it, I didn’t think much of it. She’ll bounce back. She’s younger than me. She’ll be able to make it next year. Or so I thought. In the few breaks I had that night, I tried to FaceTime her. The first few attempts were unsuccessful. She declined until the 3rd or 4th try. I couldn’t hear a word she was saying if she was saying anything. I showed her Stevie B on stage and even kept the FaceTime going taking her backstage. I wanted her to feel like the rock star she is. Not because she was sick. I still felt this was temporary. I just was having such a great time that night, one of the best nights of my career, I wanted to share the moment with her. When the crowd of thousands did the “Q105 Saturday Night Dance Party” chant with me, it was one of the best moments of my career. The show is still just a few months old. But they knew the chant and that meant everything to me. Jessica had been with me every step of the way over that previous year. She never violated my trust when I confided in her that I had quit WQYK and was going back to Q105. She played dumb on social media when I did that Twitter countdown of the days, hours and minutes to some mystery event (my first show back on Q105). She knew how eager I was to get back on Q. She was excited for me. And when it finally happened months later, no one was happier for me than Jessica. So in that moment at Freestyle Explosion, I wanted to share that “we did it” moment with her. She texted me that night how thankful she was.
At some point over the past few weeks, I remember she said she was heading home from the hospital. I was relieved and looked forward to getting together for lunch at Glory Days near the station where we’d chow down on wings. I left for vacation and while overseas in Europe, I could tell something was wrong. I told her as soon as I got back to Tampa, I’d come to see her. She asked me not to come that day, not realizing from my text that I was thousands of miles away. I started to worry, but not much. She’s young. She’ll be ok. I’ll see her when I get back and make her laugh. And she’ll get through this and get back on track.
When I got back from Europe, I couldn’t reach her. No replies on Twitter or by text … and the biggest sign something was wrong… she hadn’t posted to social media in days. By midweek this week, I was blunt in my concern and asked that she please reach out. By Thursday, I was scared. By yesterday, Jessica was on my mind all day. I had a live show from First Friday in St. Pete and near the end of the first hour, I got the news that we lost her. I love my job. But those last 4 hours of the show… I did not want to be on the air. I was stunned. I was angry. I was in disbelief. I’m still feeling all three as I type this. Nobody said life is fair, but this is just so wrong. No one deserved to be happy and healthy more than this kind soul. Jessica Madison – I will miss our talks and texts. I missed them both while I was away but it felt temporary. I hate that the world won’t have you in it.
To Jessica’s family and friends, tonight I will say goodbye to her as I wrap up the show. Immediately after I turn the mic off on Q105, I’m going to do a Facebook Live from the studio on the Q105 Saturday Night Dance Party Facebook page. I’ll open the phones to any who would like to share a memory of this incredible human being. Anyone with a story about Jessica is invited to join in… 800-990-1047. It will be at about 11:50pm.