Wade Ray Jessen, the head of several of Billboard magazine’s charts, including the bluegrass music chart, passed away in the early hours of March 5, 2015, due to a massive heart-attack.
The 53-year-old media veteran and country music champion was being treated in Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee.
Jessen was born November 15, 1961, in Roosevelt, Utah. His first job in radio was at age 16, as an on-air personality at KNEU, Roosevelt. He later moved to KSOP, Salt Lake City, and then to WSM-AM, Nashville. During his tenure at the station, Jessen was named Billboard’s medium market music director of the year in 1994.
Soon promoted to the post of Billboard’s senior chart manager, he was a self-described “country music nerd,” a very staunch traditionalist.
Jessen was a big supporter of the IBMA and he worked hard with the organisation to establish Billboard’s bluegrass music chart (based on sales), launched in July 2002. Yes, I know that we can argue till the cows come home about the magazine’s definition of bluegrass music!
He won the IBMA Print Media Person of the Year award in 2003.
Jessen had just celebrated his 20th anniversary as the head of Billboard’s country, bluegrass, Christian and Gospel charts.
Nancy Cardwell, the IBMA Executive Director from 2012 to 2014, had this to say about Jessen ……..
“He was a wonderful person, a true professional, and a good friend to bluegrass music in the country world. The Bluegrass Album Chart in Billboard would not exist if it were not for him.”
Funeral arrangements …
Visitation will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (CST) on Sunday, March 8, 2015 with the family receiving guests from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Spring Hill Funeral Home in Nashville.
A second Visitation will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, March 9, 2015 with Mass at noon at the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 1700 Heiman Street in Nashville.
There will be a viewing at the Jessen Family home, 18000 West 7750 North, Altonah, Utah, on Friday, March 13, 2015 from 4-8 p.m. Graveside services and interment at the Mt. Home-Boneta Cemetery, Mt. Home, Utah, on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.