Many radio personalities maintain long careers in the field, and Russ Martin was no exception. The Top-40 radio host of 97.1 "The Eagle" was known for his fondness for Adam West's Batman and Jim Rockford. On Feb. 27, 2021, he was reported to have been found unresponsive in his home, leading fans and long-time listeners to ask: What happened to Russ Martin?
What happened to Russ Martin?
Russ' long career was briefly broken up when his station at the time, Live 105.3, switched to sports in 2008. He had been with the station since 2000, and before that, he hosted television shows Hot TV and Hot Tickets for local Fox affiliate KDAF. After he was dropped from Live 105.3, CBS was reported to have paid him $1.1 million to stay off the air. Russ filled his time by working on an independent film about a small town police department.
In 2010, Russ returned to radio for The Eagle 97.1, this time to host The Russ Martin Show. He was accompanied by former radio co-hosts Dan O'Malley, Trey Trenholm, Clo Raborn and Everett Newton. Notably missing was former co-host J.D. Ryan, with whom he had a falling out in 2009.
Unfortunately, Russ' career came to a close when he was discovered unresponsive in his home on Feb. 27, 2021. It was revealed that a friend went to check on him that evening, and police pronounced Russ dead at 12:30 a.m. His cause of death is not currently determined, but police say foul play was not suspected. During a broadcast on The Eagle the next day, fans and hosts alike paid tribute to their friend.
It’s with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of 97.1 The Eagle’s Russ Martin. He will be dearly missed & we send our deepest condolences to his family & friends during this difficult time. We’d love to hear your favorite memory of Russ Martin below. #RIPRussMartin pic.twitter.com/cdGBC1XYY9— 97.1 The Eagle (@theeagledallas) February 27, 2021
Following the broadcast, Dan O'Malley mentioned that those who were closest to Russ were saddened by the news but not entirely unsurprised, hinting at larger health issues that might have led to Russ' early demise.
"Russ has been dealing with a lot of health issues over the last few years, so it’s sad that it comes to its inevitable end. But at the same time, we’re trying to find solace in knowing that he’s at peace and that he’s no longer in pain," Dan said to NBCDFW.
We lost a dear friend today, Russ Martin. Russ and his team were always so generous to us at Paws In The City. They supported our cause with donations and carved out a segment of the show every Friday where a couple of our adoptable dogs were featured. pic.twitter.com/75R3eU30Ur— Paws in the City (@PawsintheCity) February 28, 2021
Friends and fans mourned the loss of Russ Martin, but his legacy continues on.
Russ founded The Russ Martin Listeners Foundation in 2002 to support the families of Dallas-Fort Worth police officers and firefighters who have been killed in the line of duty. The foundation also coordinates a "Heroes Day Parade" annually, and has raised over $500,000 for families of Dallas-Fort Worth first responders.
It should be noted that Russ was a polarizing host, and prior to a notable feud with former co-host J.D., was also arrested on charges of domestic assault against his girlfriend at the time. Russ later pleaded no contest to the charges, and the couple went their separate ways. Russ served two years' probation and paid a $1,000 fine following the incident.
It sounds like while Russ may not have always been the easiest person to get along with, his charitable achievements have been appreciated in the Dallas-Fort Worth community. Russ will be missed by family, friends and fans.
If you would like to show your support, donations are encouraged to go to The Russ Martin Listeners Foundation.