Chicago radio legend Herb Kent, who worked on Windy City’s airwaves for over 70 years, died Saturday. He was 88-years-old.
According to the Chicago Tribune, his death was announced Sunday by executives at V103, where Kent worked for the past thirty years. Kent, who was also called “The Cool Gent,” “King of the Dusties” and the “Mayor of Bronzeville,” worked up until his death, hosting his final radio broadcast on Saturday morning.
“No words can express our great sense of loss,” Matt Scarano, region president of iHeartMedia Chicago, said in a statement.
“Herb was an iconic talent, who for nearly 70 years entertained millions of listeners in Chicagoland and around the world. His passion for radio and work ethic was second to none as Herb worked to the very end, by hosting what unexpectedly was his final V103 broadcast on Saturday morning.”
“We are so thankful for the privilege of working alongside such an historic figure as Herb Kent for the past 27 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Herb’s family, friends, and loved ones,” they concluded.
Kent was a Chicago-native, having grown up in the Ida B. Wells housing projects in the city’s south side Bronzeville neighborhood. He started working in radio in high school in the 1940s and over the years worked at numerous stations across the city such as WGES, WHFC and WVON. During his illustrious career, he’s also been accredited for helping launch careers of acts such as The Temptations and Smokey Robinson, The Associated Press noted. And in the ’50s, Kent coined the phrase “dusty records” or “dusties” to refer to old school music—a term that continues to be used by numerous deejays around the nation.
Kent was also an active voice in the Civil Rights Movement who hosted a program alongside Stevie Wonder for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last visit to Chicago, CBS Chicago News wrote.
Thanks to his numerous contributions over the past 70 years, Kent was been given numerous awards and recognitions including being inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995 (the first African-American) and was inducted into the national Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame this past August, joining a class that included Prince, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, Dionne Warwick and Jimi Hendrix, the Tribune wrote.
And in 2009, Mr. Kent was certified in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest tenured deejay.
It’s clear: Kent was definitely loved and will be missed.
“Herb was our radio superhero,” said Derrick Brown, director of urban programming iHeartMedia Chicago.
“While I’m incredibly sad, I hold so much joy remembering the fun times we’ve had with him and the smiles he brought to our faces. Herb will hold an eternal place in our hearts.”
It’s unknown what Kent died from and his family had no comment on Sunday. Memorial arrangement are pending.
Rest in power Herb!