Chicago – On October 22, ‘King of the Dusties,’ Herb Kent, passed away at age 88 in Chicago. Kent had more than 70 years in the industry, and his last show was on Saturday morning, hours before dying.

Kent revolutionized broadcasting in times where racism against black people did not allow them to opt to big positions in society and workplaces. He also helped several R&B such as Minnie Riperton, The Temptation, Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield to impulse their careers.

Herb Kent, who worked in Chicago radio for seven decades, died Saturday at 88. Image Credit: Kuni Takahashi / Chicago Tribune

Kent’s death made public after V103, the company where he worked since 1989, made an official announcement on their website about the death of the legend a morning after his decease. V103 also gave words of sympathy and regretting the loss of a huge icon.

The Region President iHeartMedia Chicago, Matt Scarano, expressed in the announcement “We are so thankful for the privilege of working alongside such a historical figure as Herb Kent for the past 27 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Herb’s family, friends, and loved ones.

Also, the Director or Urban Programming iHeartMedio Chicago, Derrick Brown, regretted about the death of Kent but also commemorating him by saying “Herb was our radio superhero. 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.” 

Herb Kent’s early life

He was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 5, 1928, Herber Rogers Kent grew up and raised in the South West of the city and since he was a child he developed his passion for the radio and music with genders such as Rhythm and Blues.

In his autobiographic book “The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent” he said that at very young age he used objects and used as  microphones simulating he was on the radio.

The rise of a legend

He studied ad Hyde Park High School, and he was involved in drama and music groups during his adolescence. In 1944, at age 16, Herb Kent got on the radio as a broadcaster while studying.

In 1952, after eight years hosting, Kent started being paid as a broadcaster in an hour show. Just three years later, because of his singular way to entertain, he was promoted to Head Announcer at WBEE radio station.

During the 60’s he helped several artists to opt for a musical career and launched them. Some biographers said that it was due to his passion for music and especially for R&B.

Kent was an active and defender of the African-American rights. He stood up for the equality no matter the race.

The Cool Gent

As part of his legacy, Kent taught broadcasting in the Chicago State University. He also worked in his community by creating programs in different High Schools every Friday night in order to attract the youth into healthy environments and protect them from any danger they could get involved in their adolescence.

In the 90s, “The Cool Gent” had several recognitions of his trajectory as an icon for black people and broadcasters. In 1995, he was included in the Museum of Broadcast Communications Radio Hall of Fame. A street from the South West of Chicago was named Herb Kent Drive in his honor in 1996. Also, the U.S launched in 1998 a series of stamps called “Golden Days of Radio” and included Kent in it. In 1999 the citizens of his community, South Side, named him Honorary Mayor of Bronzeville.

In 2009, he launched his autobiography “The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent,” where he talked about the beginning of his passion for music and broadcasting and about his struggles for becoming a broadcaster because of being a black man.

Weeks before his death, Kent, turned 88 on October 5 and also shared words of gratefulness to his fans for all his support and good wishes for him.

Source: Chicago Tribune