Meet YMCA Member: Jerry M.
Missoula was a small town with just a handful of radio stations and no YMCA when Jerry Murphy’s father moved his family from Wenatchee to Missoula in 1959.
“Dad started KYSS AM for a friend,” said Jerry. “The move was supposed to be temporary. We were only going to be in Missoula for six months.”
63 years, one YMCA, and many more radio stations later, Missoula is still home for Jerry. In fact, Jerry’s brother, Max, launched (and still runs) what is now 102.5 Mountain FM.
“We started as daytime radio. Since we shared the frequency with Pocatello, we had to sign off every day at sunset,” explained Jerry.
Jerry started working at the station as a child, staying for 30 years before switching careers to be a mobile home financier.
Over those 30 years, though, he did a little of everything—disc jockeying with 45s, balancing the books, installing radio towers, and building control rooms. He also watched the radio landscape transform in a multitude of ways.
“I remember when we put KYSS FM on air in 1969,” Jerry said. “AM radios needed a convertor to listen to FM radio, so we installed 700 convertors for free so people could listen to our station.”
It was around the same time Jerry was under cars installing FM convertors that the Missoula Family YMCA opened its doors.
“My wife, Val, and I started at the YMCA 25 years ago and were very regular attendees until the birth of our grandsons,” said Jerry.
Jerry remembers arriving at the YMCA at 5:00 a.m. with other early-morning regulars, ready to go before the Y even opened its doors.
Jerry also recalled attending his first indoor cycling class several decades ago. “Riding those indoor bikes was like going up a cliff for crying out loud,” he said with a laugh. “The classes had these homemade cassette tapes and everyone was hooting and hollering. It was great.”
“Then there were those old treadmills,” he added. “Back then, you were the motor. I did five miles on one of the treadmills once. Your feet got so freaking hot from the friction.”
Over the six decades of living in Missoula, Jerry has been an on-and-off YMCA member. He and Val temporarily stopped coming to the Y while caring for their young grandsons and aging parents. Jerry also faced health obstacles that have resulted in a quadruple bypass, shoulder rehabilitation, and six stents.
Today, Jerry is back at the YMCA where he and Val work with Y staff to stay active, healthy, and mobile. They recently signed up for personal training together.
“If we’re both doing it, then maybe one of us will remember what exercises we’re supposed to do,” joked Val.
While gyms and radio have evolved since Jerry first moved to Missoula, their core purpose stayed the same—they both are pillars in our community that help us connect and enjoy all that life offers.