Atlanta R&B radio legend Mitch Faulkner dies at 64

Mitch Faulkner, a longtime radio DJ in Atlanta, has died. AJC FILE PHOTO

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Mitch Faulkner, a longtime radio DJ in Atlanta, has died. AJC FILE PHOTO

He was nicknamed ‘The Voice’ and was known for his radio production prowess

Veteran Atlanta radio DJ Mitch Faulkner died last week of cardiac arrest, his brother Arvester Faulkner said. He was 64.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Home announced. A private funeral service will be held at Saint Philip AME Church in Atlanta.

Faulkner, over the years, was heard on numerous Atlanta radio stations including jazz station 91.9/WCLK-FM, former R&B station 1570/WIGO-AM, V-103 and Kiss 104.1. He was also creative director of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” for a time.

But his calling card for more than three decades was voice-over and imaging work for TV stations, ad campaigns and hundreds of radio stations worldwide, including stations in London, Nigeria, Brazil, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Denmark. His nickname was “The Voice,” given his skills at cutting promos.

He also provided the voice for Janet Jackson’s “Control” tour in 1987 and Tyler Perry’s early stage plays.

“He never met a stranger,” said Arvester. “If you were with him for two minutes, he’d make you feel like the most important person there was. He treated the executives and the guy cutting the grass exactly the same.”

Faulkner was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2018. But given his level of modesty, he chose not to attend the ceremony, working his weekend shift on Classix 102.9 that night instead.

Mike Roberts, the former V-103 morning man who now owns a station in Macon, hired Faulkner at WIGO in 1982 as an assistant program director and host. He loved Faulkner’s humility.

“He was a guy that did not put himself in front of everybody else. He was the guy that was always crediting other people,” Roberts said. “He’d do things without asking for anything in return. And he cared about radio and how it should focus on community and not dollars and ratings.”

Rene Miller, a longtime Atlanta radio DJ and Georgia Lottery host who grew up in the same part of Kentucky as Faulkner, said he hired her for her first job in Atlanta and saw him as a brother, a friend and a mentor. She said he had an incredible “passion for people and a passion for his craft. I didn’t make a move in Atlanta without talking to him first. His wisdom will live with me forever.”

Faulkner grew up in the small town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where his older brother Arvester got him interested in recording equipment. Faulkner as a teen recorded a promo about voter registration for the local NAACP chapter. It was so good, he got hired by a local radio station. “He loved immersing himself in the technical aspects of production,” Arvester said. “He knew how to compress the sound to make his voice sound bigger. His production hit you in the face.”

Arvester was working at 11Alive in Atlanta when his younger brother followed him to the city and soon nabbed a series of jobs at multiple radio stations, including powerhouse FM station V-103. In 1987, Mitch Faulkner became the first program director of the new R&B station Kiss 104.7, which would later move to 104.1. He would work on and off with Kiss over the next three decades.

In the late 1980s, Mitch Faulkner started On Mic Productions with Arvester. It eventually became Faulkner’s primary job. He would build out four digital studios and have 11 employees at its peak.

“So many voices you hear on radio today worked at On Mic Productions. They learned the craft from him,” said Art Terrell, who worked with him at Kiss for many years. “For many of us, he was like Superman. He was always there if you needed him. When I did mornings at Kiss, he’d call in every morning to check in. It’s such a tragedy he’s not around anymore.”

Rick Party, a former V-103 jock who is now the voice of ESPN SportsCenter, said Faulkner inspired him to go into voice-over production. “Whenever I do my voice-over work for ESPN,” he said, “I hear little pieces of Mitch. He may be gone but he lives on in everyone he touched.”

Faulkner suffered a tear in his aorta in 2019 and soon after, his kidneys failed him. Forced to do dialysis the past three years, the pandemic delayed his efforts to get a kidney transplant, Arvester said. He died June 27.

Arvester said Faulkner’s other passion was motorcycles. He rode for numerous charities and organized rides for 100 Black Men, the Leukemia Foundation and the National Prostate Awareness Association.

He is survived by his three sons Mitch II, Matthew and Isaiah.

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