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Benji Norton, a longtime fixture on the radio waves in Columbia, has died.
Fox 102.3 FM, the classic rock music station in Columbia where Norton worked, posted news of his death on the station’s website, as well as its Facebook and Twitter pages, Sunday night.
“It is with a heavy, saddened heart we must share that our brother, Benji Norton, has passed away,” the post said of the DJ and radio personality who was in his early 60s. “Always the SPIRIT of Fox, Benji filled the lives of those around him with laughter and plenty of smiles!”
There was no word how Norton died. Vizor Sports, which covers Gamecocks athletics, said Norton died “unexpectedly.”
“We are wishing Benji’s family courage and peace during this time of mourning,” 102.3 said.
Norton was born in North Myrtle Beach and was a 1980 University of South Carolina graduate. Although he got his degree from USC’s School of Journalism, Norton grew up a devout Clemson University fan, the alma mater of his father and three brothers, according to the radio station.
“Benji was kind and encouraging in my early days with a (M)idlands station and a fearless Tiger fan, even while working for USC’s flagship station,” Greenville Triumph public address announcer Michael Vaughn tweeted.
Norton had been in radio in Columbia since 1988 and was marketing specialist and host on 102.3 on Monday-Friday from 3-7 p.m. for the past three years.
It was his second stint 102.3. He also worked there from 1990-95 as the station’s program director and and drive-time host.
Norton also worked for Cumulus Radio from 1996-2018 as senior sales rep and morning show host. That’s where he spent years in sports talk radio, working at 107.5 FM “The Game,” from 6-9 a.m. on a show with former WLTX-TV 19 sports anchor Bob Shields, who died in 2018, and former USC baseball player Tommy Moody.
“Benji was a massive part of 107.5 The Game and was a MASSIVE part of the morning commute. … a Columbia legend!” Norton’s former coworker Bill Gunter tweeted.
Jay Phillips, another of Norton’s coworkers at 107.5, also shared his memories of the man he first followed as a listener.
“When I first knew who Benji was I was a kid in high school listening to him on the new classic rock station. Later on I got to know and work with him for more than 15 years,” Phillips tweeted. “He was a true radio pro and an even better guy. RIP man. You made a difference in Columbia.”
Prior to making his name in Columbia, Norton worked in various roles at stations in Knoxville, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham, according to 102.3. He served as an on-air personality, music director, program director and account executive.
Norton also was the public address announcer at Dutch Fork football games.
“Our Dutch Fork family mourns the loss of the voice of DF football,” the school’s football team tweeted. “RIH Benji. Sincere prayers of comfort to the Norton family and friends.”
Several more coworkers, peers, and fans posted tributes to Norton after learning of his death.
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This story was originally published May 2, 2022 9:21 AM.