- Published on Thursday, 18 August 2016 15:30
The legendary Herb Kent, who has been working in radio since 1944, will be honored this weekend in Dearborn, MI as he is inducted into the national Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. This is just the latest honor for one the most influential and respected voices to ever be heard on the radio.
Founded in 2010, the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame was originally named the Official R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum, changing its name to the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame Museum a few years later, and then this summer again changing its name to something simpler and shorter.
Among the 2016 class of inductees is a man who defines class: Chicago radio icon Herb Kent. Other inductees and honorees this year include Prince, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, Fats Domino, Wilson Pickett, Jimi Hendrix, Dionne Warwick, Bootsy Collins, Sam & Dave, Bettye LaVette, Bobby Brown, Eddie Holman, Eddie Floyd, The Velvelettes, The Royal Jokers, Miller London, The Falcons, Mack Rice, Robert Bateman, Mickey Stevenson, Rena Scott, Al Abrams, Isaiah McKinnon, and Cathy Hughes.
Kent will join only a small group of radio talents inducted into this museum, including Tom Joyner (who is quoted as saying "Herb Kent paved the road of success that I'm on today"), Donnie Simpson, Norm N. Nite, and Tim Marshall.
The Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame 2016 induction ceremony will take place on Sunday night at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, located in suburban Detroit. The Museum does not yet have a permanent home, although it hopes to one day, most likely in Detroit, and/or Memphis. It currently has a mobile museum that travels around the country.
Kent has been honored many times before, and will probably continue to be honored for years to come.
He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. Kent holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest serving radio DJ on Earth with his 72-year career, which is still going strong. He has been saluted by the City of Chicago by having a street named in his honor, as a section of East 67th Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood is now "Herb Kent Drive." December 5, 2009 was also officially declared "Herb Kent Day" in the State of Illinois" by then-Governor Pat Quinn.
Kent is known by a few nicknames, including The Cool Gent, The King of the Dusties, and The Honorary Mayor of Bronzeville. Most of all he is known for being one of the longest lasting and most important figures in Chicago radio history.
Spanning a career of over seven decades, Kent has worked at such Chicago area stations as WVON-AM, WJJD-AM, WBEZ-FM, WMAQ-AM, WGES-AM, WBEE-AM, WHFC-AM, WJOB-AM, WGRY-AM, and of course, WVAZ-FM, where he has been since 1988 and can still be heard each weekend. He also serves as a lecturer of broadcasting and communications at his alma mater of Chicago State University.
In 1995, the same year that Kent was the first African-American inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, he also hosted a short-lived, dance and "dusties" television show on WLS-TV/ABC 7, entitled "Steppin' at Club 7."
Kent released his extremely well-received autobiography, "The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent
" in 2009, which is still selling strong to this day.
In addition to his many media accomplishments, Kent has always tried to serve as a community and civil rights leader for Chicago. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. For the last few decades, he has frequently pushed to the city's youth to stay in school and away from gang involvement.
This October 5th, Kent will turn 88 years old. He is still going strong and has no plans on retiring.