Renee Nelson, left, and Matt James talk during their radio morning show Friday at 92 Moose in Augusta. Nelson will be retiring following her Wednesday show, after more than 30 years on Townsquare Media’s central Maine stations. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Renee Nelson may answer her last 3 a.m. alarm Wednesday.

That is because it is the last on-air shift for the longtime radio host of the 92 Moose morning show. Nelson announced her retirement with a June 11 statement on the 92 Moose website. Shortly after, she said, her inbox was flooded with well wishes from her many loyal listeners.

“It has been an honor to (be a) part of this community over the years and see the development of the Kennebec Valley,” said Nelson, who is relocating to Florida on Thursday.

While her decision to move to Florida may have come as a surprise to some, Nelson said it was something she had considered for years. As a teenager, she said, she dreaded the winters in Maine. In fact, after she graduated broadcast school in St. Louis, Nelson swore she would never move back to Maine.

But, in 1986, she came back to Vacationland to begin her radio career and made Maine her home. Despite enduring more than 30 winters here since then, Nelson said she has no regrets.

After she departs, Nelson’s radio partner Matt James will run the show solo for the time being. Matt is the second James with whom Nelson partnered, having previously worked with his father Jon James. She remembered meeting Matt when he was a 3-year-old running around the radio station.

“I even tripped over his matchbox cars in the hall on Saturday mornings,” said Nelson. “I have watched Matt grow from an adorable little boy to an amazing dad, husband and all-around good guy.”

Renee Nelson, left, working with former co-host Jon James in February 2016 during the morning show at 92 Moose in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

She sold her Maine home in 2019 and has gotten rid of furniture and many of her belongings during the past few months, keeping clothes and a few of her most prized possessions. On Thursday, Nelson plans to hit Interstate 95 with a fully packed car, and she joked that she feels like a traveling college student.

She called her decision to move to Florida “a big leap of faith.”

“I have no employment lined up at this point,” Nelson said, “but I am open to returning to radio in Florida.”

In the meantime, she is planning to cat sit and take care of a friend’s house while she searches for long-term employment.

Though she is excited to begin the new chapter in her life, Nelson said she will miss the central Maine community.

“I know what a fantastic community we have in central Maine,” she wrote in her retirement statement. “Being part of the fabric of central Maine as we all navigated this pandemic is precisely where I needed to be.”

Of her 30 years at 92 Moose, Nelson said her final year was most rewarding.

In the top photo, B98.5 radio morning show co-host Sarah Dyer, left, holds the hand of news director Renee Nelson as she gets a buzz cut from Lorayanna Tracy as part of a fundraising event in May 2015 at Supercuts in Augusta. In bottom photo, morning show co-host Randy McCoy brushes his hand on Nelson’s new short haircut. The Hair for the Hungry promotion raised over $5,000 for more than 20 local food banks. The challenge was that if listeners raised over $2,500, Supercuts would also donate $2,500 and Nelson would get her hair cut off. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

“It was being part of the central Maine community, my community, in this challenging time,” she said. “Working to bring some normalcy, humor and important information to people during COVID.”

In addition to her on-air presence, Nelson has also been involved in a myriad community organizations. She has volunteered with Spectrum Generations Meals on Wheels and The Salvation Army, noting the latter group’s “Camp Out Hunger” food drive as especially memorable the last two years.

“My fondest memories have been in November of 2019 and 2020 with Camp Out Hunger raising nonperishables and cash for local food banks,” said Nelson, encouraging people to donate to the event this year. “The community stepped up in a way to make the second year huge.”

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