CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Radio legend Herb Kent has died. He was 88.
iHeartMedia, the parent company of V103, 102.7 FM, The Chicago R&B radio station where Mr. Kent, nicknamed “The Cool Gent,” spent 27 years on air, announced early Sunday that he died Saturday (Oct. 22) evening.
“No words can express our great sense of loss. Herb was an iconic talent, who for nearly 70 years entertained millions of listeners in Chicagoland and around the world,” Derrick Brown, director of urban programming at iHeartMedia Chicago said on the station website Sunday.
Born Herbert Rogers Kent, the Chicago native was raised in the Ida B. Wells public housing development on the South Side of Chicago. He began his radio career at 16-years-old, when he was accepted into the highly competitive WBEZ Radio Workshops.
Mr. Kent’s first paid radio job was at WGRY in Gary, Indiana for $35 a week. Throughout his career he would become one of the first regular deejays on WVON, and work for WJJD, as well as serve as an instructor at Chicago State University.
He was an active voice in the Chicago leg of the Civil Rights Movement who hosted a program alongside Stevie Wonder for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last visit to Chicago.
Mr. Kent’s nearly 70 years of experience in radio was celebrated this year as he was indicted into the National R&B Hall of Fame. Other inductees included Prince, Smokey Robinson, Fats Domino, Jimi Hendricks, Bobby Brown, Sam & Dave, among others.
In 2009, Mr. Kent was certified in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest tenured deejay, 67 years on Chicago radio at the time.
In 1995 Mr. Kent was inducted into the Museum of Broadcasting’s Radio Hall of Fame. In Bronzeville, there’s a street named in his honor, “Herb Kent Drive.”
Sunday afternoon, listeners and colleagues wrote sympathy messages on the radio station Facebook page, as the station shared memories of Mr. Kent over the airwaves.
In a statement, Matt Scarano, region president of iHeartMedia Chicago said, “Herb leaves a legacy of thousands of entertainers he helped boost, community causes he impacted, and as a former instructor at Chicago State University, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge with hundreds of students. 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.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.