Radio Legend, Herb Kent “The Cool Gent,” Dies At 88

(photo by Ken Bedford)

(photo by Ken Bedford)

Chicago radio legend Herb Kent, a fixture on radio waves for 70 years and a man who also in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Longest career as a radio DJ, died Saturday. He was 88.

Kent’s death was announced Sunday by executives at iHeartMedia’s V103 FM Chicago, where Kent worked for the past three decades. V103 has been hit hard this year with another loss of syndicated radio host, Doug Banks’ passing earlier this year. The company didn’t provide details in an online statement but said he hosted his final broadcast on Saturday morning.

Also known as “King of the Dusties,” “Herbie Baby,” and the “Mayor of Bronzeville,” Kent did his final radio broadcast 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.”

Kent was born and raised in Chicago and his career in radio spanned 70 years, working at, WVON, WJJD and V103, where he was still working and hosted a show Saturday morning.

He said in his autobiography that even as a straight-A student at Northwestern University his professor told him he would never make it in radio because he was black.

In addition to his radio work, Kent was also active in the Civil Rights movement. He hosted a program with Stevie Wonder for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s last visit to Chicago.

In 1995, Kent was inducted into the Museum of Broadcasting’s Radio Hall of Fame and he also has a street named in his honor, “Herb Kent Drive,” in city’s Bronzeville neighborhood.