After two and a half years as on-air teammates, McKay and co-host Jeff Veley both left their duties on the local contemporary Christian outlet at the end of June. Breaking the surprising news proved difficult.
"Don't you make me weepy," Veley warned McKay during their bittersweet announcement which both said was made with "heavy hearts."
"You guys (listeners) are family," Veley added.
Their farewell show was Fri. June 30 – a retrospective of their run hosting JQ's afternoon drive with a montage of music, memories and portions of past interviews.
Taking over their time slot is Marcia Wilder (the former Marcia Ware) who had been doing the news with morning show co-hosts Ceci LaBarge and Adam McNutt.
A CALL HOME
McKay and Veley are going their separate ways. But only McKay is leaving West Michigan. He's returning to his old stomping grounds in central Alabama as the new afternoon host on WDJC-FM, a Christian radio station in Birmingham.
He said the circumstances which led to the move began last February when he visited his parents in his Alabama home town. His father's serious illness and McKay's own life journey over the past year got him thinking.
"I needed fresh eyes and fresh ears to say to God, 'Where do you want me?' Not based on career goals or anything like that. But if he wanted me to go back home, I would go as he provides."
A second trip for Mother's Day built on his experience. And he realized how much he missed about being home.
That's when he got a call from WDJC inquiring about his interest.
McKay, 45, has done radio in Florida, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan. The last 19 years have been in Christian broadcasting.
"I've gotten to hear stories from listeners about how God has impacted them through a radio station," he said. Participating in the annual Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon has been a career highlight, he says, letting him connect with people from all over Michigan and beyond.
"In fact, West Michigan has been the most home for me of all my moves – I'm leaving a place that feels like home to go home."
During his time here McKay has emceed numerous area concerts: at churches, auditoriums and even Van Andel Arena. He was on stage for the first-ever faith-based concert at the new 20 Monroe Live venue in downtown Grand Rapids.
Meanwhile, Veley is remaining in West Michigan, but has decided that with McKay leaving, the timing was right for him to focus on his speaking ministry. His bullying prevention presentations have led him to visit schools and youth organizations across the country (for more information visit www.jeffveley.com).
"I've been getting more speaking requests than ever before," he said. "And I'd really like to go on tours and reach more people. As I prayed about this next chapter and my schedule filled, I decided to go out at the same time with Ace."
Veley said he will continue doing his weekly "Love Changes It All" radio features and will help to host JQ station events when he is in town.
FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS FOREVER
McKay first came to JQ-99 in 2013 as a part of a new morning show team with Sabrina Fairchild. When longtime fixture Troy West left the station, McKay shifted to afternoons and was paired with Veley.
"When we signed on that first show we knew little about each other," Veley recalled. "Over these two and a half years I've gained a brother that I'm going to miss very much – we've shared some of the greatest and hardest moments together on and off the air."
"We're great friends and I can guarantee that the shenanigans and support for each other will continue."