In TV, you know you’ve made it when the viewers adopt you as one of their own.  Jed Mescon reached that status many years ago.  How many times have I been asked, “How’s my boy Jed doing?” I’ve been told so many times, “I can’t wake up without my Jed in the morning.” And now, it’s “What are we going to do without our Jed to start the day?”

Jed and I worked together at WRCB for more than 28 years.  From the moment he walked in the door, I knew Chattanooga had not seen anyone quite like him. The bow ties, the suspenders, the boundless energy: he truly lights up a room.

Jed was hired as a feature reporter.  In those days, we closed the 6 p.m. news with an upbeat story, leaving viewers with a smile after 30 minutes of mostly doom and gloom.  

It was Jed’s job to find the artists, the craftsmen, and some rather offbeat characters.  Each evening for about nine years, Jed brought us stories that touched us, or made us laugh.  “Jed’s Journal” is fondly remembered as a daily 90-second dose of positive energy.

Energy.  There’s that word.  “Where does Jed get all that energy?” I’ve never seen Jed take a sip of coffee, although he is rumored to enjoy a Mello Yello now and then. While that colorful elixir might provide a needed temporary boost, Jed’s “Jed-ness” is 100% natural.  I didn’t know him for the first 28 years of his life, but I’d say it’s a safe bet he was born that way.

Growing up in the Atlanta area, he loved listening to music on the radio, and became an entertainer in his own right.  He knew he had a gift with people, so he found opportunities to put that gift to work.  He hosted a kid’s show, learned lifesaving techniques as a volunteer EMT, and was a varsity cheerleader at Arizona State University.

His TV reporting career took him to Savannah and Charleston before landing in Chattanooga, and he figured our town was just another step up the ladder.  He could put in a couple of years in the Scenic City, and the next stop could be Atlanta, Chicago, or even the network.  Luckily for him, and us, that was not to be.

One morning in 1988, an opportunity presented itself.  The reporter who anchored WRCB’s “Today Show” local news cut-ins left the station.  The news director said, “Does anybody here want to come in a little earlier and do the news?” Never one to resist a challenge, Jed raised his hand.  Before long, NBC started airing an early newscast and urged local stations to do the same.  WRCB created a 15-minute newscast at 6:45 a.m.  In the summer of 1989, the station stuck its toe in the water a little deeper, expanding to 6:30 a.m.  You know the rest of the story.  As the ratings grew, so did the morning news, now starting at the once-unthinkable early hour of 4:30.

Also in the summer of 1989, something else happened that would keep Jed in Chattanooga.  He met Phyllis Peeples, and they fell in love.  In one of the best-remembered Jed’s Journals, he proposed to Phyllis on camera.  In the greatest cliffhanger since “Who Shot JR?” Jed left us hanging for 24 hours to find out if she would accept.  Thankfully, the next day her answer was revealed, again on camera.

Of course Phyllis said, “Yes!” and the Mescons became Chattanoogans for good.

Since then, they have raised a beautiful daughter Caroline, and have become an even bigger part of our lives.  I remember a promo from Jed’s early days, in which he said his goal was “to make a difference each day, one person at a time.”  That sounds like something a public relations person would write, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Jed was, and is sincere about that.

When Jed announced recently that he was leaving WRCB for a marketing management position at Erlanger Health System, tributes began pouring in on social media.  Many thanked him for his sunny optimism, some said they would miss his antics on the midday “3 Plus You” show, and still others said they appreciated his weekly Restaurant Report Card segments on the evening news (“Enjoy Your Meal!”).

But there were also the personal stories.  Jed’s generosity is legendary.  He has helped people repair their homes, bought bouquets for strangers in the supermarket, and cheered up many a sad face with cookies and cake.  He has raised tons of money for good causes, and collected a warehouse full of meals for the Food Bank.  In our “click and send” world, he still writes thank-you notes.

So while Jed won’t be on our TV screens each morning, rest assured he will continue to pick up litter along the roadway, give a ride to those without wheels, and as he promised, make a difference each day, one person at a time.