At the end of last week I was dealing with a sick child and a busy work week, so I barely looked at Facebook. Thus, I missed the news that Ed Martin passed away last Thursday.
Although I had met Ed prior, I really spent most of my time with him in my 2000 to 2003 stint back in Atlanta. There was a period of really intense work there when a small set of people, mostly but not exclusively alumni, helped transition WREK from an unreliable, frequently off-the-air lovable train wreck to a station you could actually set your clock radio to. Part of this project coincided with being laid off from my job, and as I wanted to put Oracle on my resume I used this project to do that. I spent a lot of time in the station and Ed was frequently there.
As I recall, Ed took some courses at Georgia Tech which game him student status to work at WREK. Once you do that it’s not that hard to hang on forever (or it wasn’t back then.) WREK of that era was a difficult place to get people to show up. Ed was a person who always showed up. I saw him on weekday mornings, Saturday nights, dropping by for a moment or an hour if his itinerary took him anywhere near the station.
Ed always talked to you as if you understood everything he was saying. Maybe I’m the dumbest person he knew but I didn’t. I struggled to catch the references he threw out as he seemingly knew more about rock, jazz, hip-hop and world music than I do. That’s not to mention politics, city planning, the law, literature, cinema and geography. I think possibly I might have known more than him about early Vertigo comics but I wouldn’t have bet cash on that prospect.
I have seen some remembrances, like Chris Campbell’s eulogy for Ed. Many many more are on his Facebook page. People stress what a kind person and how generous with his time he was. I too literally never heard him say a bad word about anyone. Just his attendance at events was enough to tire me thinking about them and I am a guy 18 years younger than him. He was helpful to a fault, kind, funny, smart, generous. When I think of my failings as a person, Ed was the kind of person I was failing to be.