Herb Kent Colleague, Reggie Miles Sr. remembers the legend in an open and honest way that deserves your attention. See below.
My relationship with Herb Kent started as a “fan” in the summer of 1963. I was 9 years old when I heard the those voices coming out of my transistor radio from the “Black Giant” WVON. Herb Kent was magical and masterful with impeccable command of the English language. I wanted my voice to be heard coming out of the radio too. I like many others were drawn to radio through the “genius” of Herbert Rogers Kent. Herb was a lot of things to many people but to me he was the consummate professional never taking his job or his position for granted. My teenage year memories were filled with the music and performances of Herb Kent on the radio. He was the pied piper to Teenagers. And he always emphasized for the youth to “Stay in School.” Herb would let us know every night when “curfew time” came. At 10:30 WVON would put out a clarion call — It’s 10:30, Do you know where your children are? In addition to telling us when to go home. Herb made us feel good about the “high school” we attended. At various times during his show he would acknowledge many high schools by saying in a time check the high school name and mascot “It’s 21 Tilden Blue Devil minutes after 8. Man did I feel proud that he called out my school on the air. And to me the WVON years (1963-1978) were the best in radio. And Al Greer, I never liked the Quiet Storm shows because Herb spoiled me with great radio.
Herb Kent made “night time” radio just as exciting, fun and entertaining as a Daytime program. I would not be too far off in stating that Herb Kent during his years at WVON were the “prototype” for the morning shows of today. I remember the “Battle of the Best” long before he performed those debates on FM radio. I recall Herb doing something similar with the “Ghouster versus Ivy Leaguers debates”. Yes Herb Kent was into fashion! No one has ever or will ever work radio in the “Theater of the Mind” as Herb Kent did.
A lot of folk have been talking about the characters, the Wahoo Man, Green Grunchin, Rudolph Browner, Little Miss Cornshucks, the Rib Supreme Commercials, Bobby Q Bobby and other members of the Electric Crazy people. I remember Herb too as being an activist standing in the gap for Chicagoans and African Americans during the Civil Rights years of the 60’s. All the WVON Good Guys did their parts but Herb was the one who was connected to the youth and when he spoke we listened.
Unlike many of my colleagues in radio, I never worked with Herb Kent at a radio station. I had the opportunity to be around the Legendary Radio Personality at the “Other Place” Night Club on 75th and King Drive. Being in the same place with the Legendary DJ and watching him work the craft was some of the best experience I ever had. Herb was always prepared and was not afraid of the technology. He was one of the first jocks on the street to use a Double CD player and was one of the first to use the computer to spin music. In my mind just playing on the same bill with the Kool Gent lite a fire and shaped my spinning style forever. Herb would always tease me about losing my hair and I would always tell him I gonna make the crowd love me just like they love you. I spun the best music I ever spun those nights following Herb Kent at the “Other Place”.
The greatest honor for me with Herb was when I as the vice president of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild was given the task of presenting the “Al Hobbs” Award of Excellence to Herb for his “work” and longevity in the Industry. 72 years in one market. Herb Kent is an awesome talent.
That night, I had the opportunity to be next to the man that inspired me to spin and present him with his first award from a “Religious” organization. Herb was sharp and clean.. And I teased him about losing his hair too. “Why you always wearing that Big Hat? take it off !”, I teased. When I gave the remarks and presented him with the award. I was filled with love, admiration and an unspeakable joy.
I appreciate Herb Kent because he was able to do what he LOVED for 72 years and he was a part of my life for 53 years. He was best friend that I never knew personally. Herb never ran from and opportunity to share his wisdom on life and or about the craft. I WILL NEVER FORGET HERB KENT. He performed the craft WELL never short changing his audience. He fathered indirectly LEGIONS of radio personalities and street DJ’s. He was always prepared and most of all he inspired me(and probably every other jock in the city) to be the BEST that I (they) could be. As Herb would say. “So Everything is Everything” …
Rest in Peace Herb you are second to none and cannot be replaced by anyone. I thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge influencing me to be the BEST that I can be. I remember calling you many many times and we talked for hours about education, teaching and radio. I promise to teach the students that you loved at Chicago State University to be excellent performers in radio – just as I remember you were.
Professor Miles “Teacher in the Pocket” Audio Engineer Director ePortfolios ” Have you created your ePortfolio