By Karen Stokes
Ernest Glenn Mitchell, known to the community as Ernie G., a music icon, radio personality and disc jockey for over four decades, died Friday, June 11 at the age of 66.
“Ernie had some medical issues for a couple of years that he had overcome because he’s a fighter, but eventually the Lord chose to call him home,” said Mitchell’s wife of 35 years, Maggie. “Ernie often talked about how he was looking forward to celebrating our 36th anniversary this Sept. 14.”
The two of them had many friends throughout Milwaukee.
Rick McKinley was a close childhood friend of Mitchell since they were in 4th grade. They lived in in the Hillside projects and attended Fourth Street Elementary School.
“We met when we were eight and have been friends ever since,” McKinley said. “We went to Lincoln High School, we played in the band, played basketball and football. Ernie was the homecoming prince and I was prom king. The only thing that separated us is when he went to UW-Stevens Point and I went to UW-Whitewater. We’ve stayed friends all these years. Although my heart is heavy, I am glad he is no longer in pain.”
Mitchell was loved and respected by many throughout the community. On the morning of Friday, June 11, WNOV-AM program director Homer Blow, shared the following statement:
“God called his good and faithful servant home on Friday, June 11, 2021. Ernie G will always be a member of the WNOV family. The Courier Communications Corporation ownership, management and family ask you to join us in remembering our brother Ernie G and to keep his wife Maggie, their family and friends lifted up in prayer. We thank them for sharing Ernie G with us and Milwaukee’s Black community.”
Mitchell was a legendary figure in Milwaukee’s urban radio scene. He used his talent and time not only on the airwaves but he was a tremendous force in the lives of so many people. He helped advance the careers of others including Homer Blow, Wayne CK, Wolf D, Rob Hardy, Dave TJ, Kevin Buchannon, Black Cherry, Chris Levy, Dellio “The Dude” and Earl Stokes.
“Ernie saw something in a young kid from 6th and Keefe, took a chance and gave me my first afternoon drive shift,” said Earl Stokes, afternoon air personality on WJMR-FM.
“He’s a very good man, I’ll miss him.”
Kevin Buchannon, program director at WIGO, Atlanta said, “Ernie and I first met at WAWA, and a few years later at WNOV. He was instrumental in allowing me the creativity to elevate my career to the next level. We’ve remained friends for four decades. Ernie loved radio and loved helping people. He never got tired of caring for people.”
“Ernie and I remained friends for over 40 years since meeting at WNOV when we were first starting out in radio,” said John Torres, owner of Caliente radio, 97.9 FM. “I spoke to him a few weeks before his passing and we had a wonderful talk. We talked about the days at WNOV. He will be so greatly missed.”
Born January 11, 1955, Mitchell was lured to radio at an early age through his love for music. He started his career in radio carrying records for the disc jockeys at 860 WNOV.
In 1977, Mitchell got his chance to host an R&B and hip-hop show on WNOV. In 1980, he was promoted to music and program director.
He left WNOV in 1997 and continued his career at 1290 WMCS with his Saturday Jam Session. That’s where he met Sales Manager Robbie Fulton.
“He was just the nicest person,” Fulton said in a statement. “I asked him to DJ my wedding and with no hesitation he said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Mitchell has won numerous awards over the years including National Program Director of The Year in 1989 and the 25th Annual Black Excellence Award in 2010. He also worked for Beechwood, a distributor of the Anheuser Busch Corporation, O.I. C., and Maximus.
“Listening to Ernie G was an experience like no other,” said Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas. “He had the ability to get the crowd jumping to the rhythmic sounds he knew better than anyone and the ability to slow the music down to get you in the mood. I recall many events in my lifetime where you knew if Ernie G was playing the music a good time would be had by all. His memory will remain in our hearts forever. I send my deepest condolences to his wife Maggie and family, his adoring listeners and all who knew and loved this great man of urban arts, entertainment, music and culture.”
Jerrel Jones, owner of WNOV-AM said, “I’ve known Ernie since he started in the radio business. I loved him like a son. In fact, I named my son after him. There is a feeling of loss throughout the WNOV family and there’s no replacement for him, he will always be a part of the WNOV family. We will keep him in our memories. Everyone in heaven is happy because he’s spinning records up there.”
“Ernie got his first break in radio on WNOV because of Jerrel Jones and Sandra Robinson,” Maggie said. “They are still very important to our family.”
Mitchell is survived by his wife, Maggie, and his children Montrell, Devin, Dionna and Latrina, his mother Geneva Lewis, his brother Junior in California, his sister Mary, his nephew Jerrell, who looked to follow in his Uncle Ernie’s footsteps in radio, and his niece Victoria.
Celebration of Ernie G’s life:
First Visitation: Thursday, June 24, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Parklawn Assembly of God 3725 N. Sherman Blvd.
Second Visitation: Friday, June 25 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Christ the King B.C. 7750 N. 60th St. Service immediately following at 6:00pm