James D. Bastfield, 32, on-air morning radio producer

April 13, 2000|By Nora Koch | Nora Koch,SUN STAFF

James D. Bastfield, better known to Baltimore radio listeners as "JB, the Bald-Headed Wonder," died of colon cancer yesterday at University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 32.

The popular morning on-air producer for WWIN-FM (95.9) and WERQ-FM (92.3) radio stations was born in Baltimore and graduated from City College in 1986. He produced "Magic" 95.9's "The Randy Dennis Morning Show" on weekday mornings until seven months before his death.

Mr. Bastfield, known to family and friends as JB, invented his radio persona when he took to the air in 1996. He had kept his head shaved since 1995 to disguise a family trait of early baldness and added the rest of his on-air name in homage to Stevie Wonder.

Every weekday on "The Randy Dennis Morning Show," Mr. Bastfield would scream his trademark greeting: "Party, people!"

"That was his hello," said Lena Moore, Mr. Bastfield's colleague of five years and a weekend disc jockey for WWIN. "If that didn't wake you up, then nothing would."

Mr. Bastfield produced WWIN's morning radio show from September 1996 until September, when he left the company to work for a new station in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mr. Bastfield, who attended Morgan State University for three years, also was host of WERQ's "Rap Attack" on Saturday evenings and "Easy Like Sunday Morning" on Sunday mornings until about a year ago.

"He was more than just a co-worker; he was a friend to everybody.," Ms. Moore said. "He was just a loving person."

Mr. Bastfield gave motivational speeches to city schoolchildren and volunteered with Bea Gaddy's East Baltimore soup kitchen.

"He has helped us a lot," said Ms. Gaddy. "He will be missed."

"He really wanted to reach the kids and to let them know they could be anything they wanted," said his mother, Karen Better-Bastfield of Northwood.

He liked to write poetry and wrote "Thank You, Black Woman" for his mother when he was 23. He wrote the poem to show how he appreciated her struggles as a single mother. A framed copy of the poem hangs in the living room of his mother's house, where he was living at the time of his death.

Funeral plans were incomplete yesterday.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by a brother, Jamal Bastfield of Baltimore; two sisters, Kim Bastfield of Atlanta and Talea Bastfield of Baltimore; his maternal grandmother, Celeste Better of Glen Burnie; and his paternal grandmother, Geraldine Bastfield of West Baltimore.

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