Kevin West, longtime WGOW radio program director who recently became public information officer for the Chattanooga Police Department, died unexpectedly Monday morning. He was 61.
Friends said Mr. West had worked out, then went into his office. He had walked out of his office when he collapsed.
A 43-year radio veteran, Mr. West was described as "the community’s most-trusted news source for 35 years, providing up-to-date news and reporting during some of the community’s most challenging times."
Mr. West started his radio career in 1979 as a disc jockey at the campus radio station at the University of Michigan with a paying job at WIBM in Jackson, Mi. He came to Chattanooga in 1987 as the morning news anchor and street reporter for WGOW-AM and became program director of Talk FM 102.7 from Eastgate before it became Talk FM 102.3. At Pineville Road since 1994, Mr. West has led the Talk AM and FM stations as program director, guiding Chattanoogans during some of the city’s most difficult events, including the deadly assault in 2015 at the Navy Operational Support Center.
In tandem with his broadcast career, Captain West served in the United States Navy, beginning with an on-air enlistment in the Navy Reserves and culminating with his retirement as a Navy Captain in 2021. While serving his community and country, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2016 and 2017 as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul and served as commanding officer of the 6th Fleet Public Affairs, 7th Fleet Public Affairs, and Navy Public Affairs Support Element Headquarters.
Police said, "The Chattanooga Police Department suffered a tremendous loss this morning following the sudden passing of Public Affairs Director Kevin West. West experienced a medical emergency around 8:30 AM and was taken to a local hospital where he later died.
"West joined the Chattanooga Police Department on July 14th of this year after retiring from WGOW where he was the program director. West began his media career in Jackson, Michigan, working not only in radio news, but also newspaper and television. West was also a 24-year veteran of the United States Navy, retiring as Captain two years ago.
"West's time with the Chattanooga Police Department was short but instrumental in developing the Public Affairs Division. He was working toward building the unit to establish a more robust media presence and capitalize on current social platforms to deliver timely messaging.
"West leaves to mourn his loss a beloved wife, Carlene; five children; his father and mother, Ken and Bertha West; other family, friends and the Chattanooga Police Department."