Remembering radio enthusiast Jay Smilkstein

I’ve only attended the Winter SWLFest for  four years thus far, yet the friends I’ve made there have become like family. It shouldn’t be a surprise, really; we’re all passionate about radio and things related to radio and broadcasting. It’s an event where we can be who we are–no need to explain to these compatriots why you like tuning in shortwave stations, while the internet seems (at least to everyone else) to be so much easier.

Jay had a strong interest in AM DXing, tube gear, amplifiers and, I learned this year, IF filter design.

Jay Smilkstein, 1961-2012.

Our friend Jay was, I believe, at the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum.  While Jay had some social hang-ups and behaviors that made some uncomfortable, fortunately, at the SWLFest, there were a number of folks who went out of their way to take Jay under a wing, assist him with personal interactions, and generally welcome him back  each year.

I’m pretty sure that he considered the SWLFest, and many he’d interacted with over the airwaves, his radio family, too.

Jay passed away suddenly from a heart attack two days ago, on Monday, March 12th, 2012.

As my friend, David, phrased it:  Long may you ride the radio waves you loved so much.

 

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9 thoughts on “Remembering radio enthusiast Jay Smilkstein

  1. Lauren

    I was so saddened to hear of Jay’s passing. I remember many summer days spent with him, my Aunt Jean and my Uncle Harry at their home in Mount Kisco. Rest in peace, Jay. I know your mom and dad are thrilled to be with you again

    Reply
    1. Dan Birenbaum

      Dear Lila,
      Please pardon the familiarity. My name is Dan Birenbaum. I knew Jay Smilkstein through Mt. Kisco Hebrew Congregation, which took care of his burial. I was not aware of this web site at that time. His grave in King David cemetery is unmarked and I am trying to get him a “footstone”. We, at MKHC were under the impression that this would have been taken care of by family. If you would like to help defray costs, please contact me at DanBirenbaum@yahoo.com
      Thank you.
      Dan Birenbaum

      Reply
    2. Dan Birenbaum

      Dear Lauren,
      Please pardon the familiarity. My name is Dan Birenbaum. I knew Jay Smilkstein through Mt. Kisco Hebrew Congregation, which took care of his burial. I was not aware of this web site at that time. His grave in King David cemetery is unmarked and I am trying to get him a “footstone”. We, at MKHC were under the impression that this would have been taken care of by family. If you would like to help defray costs, please contact me at DanBirenbaum@yahoo.com
      Thank you.
      Dan Birenbaum

      Reply
  2. Lila

    I am Jay’s cousin and was quite shocked to learn of Jay’s passing. I am emailing my children to advise them of Jay’s death. For quite awhile I have had no contact with Jay as certain conversations made it almost impossible for me to continue communication with him. His parents were the nicest people and the Smilksteins were a well known family in Mt. Kisco. My prayers are being offered that this young man now can find some measure of peace as he really didn’t get much of in in today’s society who didn’t understand him.

    Reply
    1. Dan Birenbaum

      Hello Lila,
      It is now a little over five years since the passing of Jay Smilkstein. I know there is no marker on his grave at the King David Cemetery, in Putnam County NY. I am preparing to get one and have it placed. If you receive this information please contact me at DanBirenbaum@yahoo.com (ignore the mail not received message).
      I knew Jay through MKHC in Mt. Kisco.
      Be well,
      DanB.

      Reply
  3. Bob Harrington

    I was longtime friends with Jay since high school Jay definitely Beat to a different drummer But had a heart of gold I once attended the swfest with jay he was in his glory and was glad to hear he made it this year, I had Jay over to my house in the mountains 3 weeks ago i had gone to the doctor who was also jays doctor and he said did you here about Jay ? im still in shock Even though he could be a pain in the a.. at times he will be missed deeply May the Dx be with you my friend !

    Reply
  4. nessuno

    I’m still shocked to know that Jay has passed away. I was familiar with him through wbcq and often heard him call in. He was an unusual person, to be sure but I know that many had a soft spot for him. It is a shame when a character like Jay Smilkstein passes away, and the world is poorer for that. May the sweet man rest in peace, he died so young.

    Reply

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