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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

King Records Legacy Fills WVXU Airwaves In September


Full disclosure here: If I still worked at the Enquirer, I’d be writing about Lee Hay and her latest effort to celebrate Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting and recording history.

Up next for Hay: Another five-week series about Cincinnati’s iconic King Records, to celebrate King Records month.

On “The Blues with Lee Hay” at 11 p.m. Saturday on WVXU-FM and WMUB-FM, she interviews music historian Brian Powers and Steve Halper, nephew of King Records founder Syd Nathan, about the history of the record label and the many musicians who recorded there.

Powers also talks about the many activities scheduled to honor King Records during the September celebration around the city. (See list here.)

Her September shows feature King Records artists Philip Paul, Delbert Barker, Rusty York, Bonnie Lou, Orangie Hubbard, Herman Cress and Wilson Spivey Jr.; and music historians Larry Nager, Randy McNutt (both are my former Enquirer colleagues),

John Rumble, Michael Gray and Henry Glover.

“I’ve been fascinated with King Records ever since the 2008 series I produced, hosted by Larry Nager.  The best part of producing these specials is spending time with the musicians and music historians and hearing their stories,” Hay says.

Credit WVXU
Lee Hay

  “I’ve been working on most of this series for a couple of months now, although the interviews with Orangie Ray Hubbard, Wilson Spivey, Jr. and Herman Cress were recorded in 2008 and this will be their first airing.

“Steve Halper and Brian Powers came into the studio a couple of weeks ago to talk with me about the history of King and the September celebration.  Steve’s got wonderful memories of his uncle Syd Nathan and working at King Records while growing up,” she says.

“There are still so many stories that haven’t been recorded or documented, and time is running out to hear from many of them who are now older and spread around the country. “I’m lucky to have friends like Larry Nager, Darren Blasé, Randy McNutt and Brian Powers who have been instrumental in helping me with my research.  I feel blessed to be able to share these King Records memories with our listeners,” she says.

In 2013, Hay aired a five-part series, called "King Records: Cincinnati Legacy."

King Records’ 30-year operation started in September 1943 when Nathan convinced two WLW-AM radio performers, Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis, to help establish the Cincinnati recording company. The studios at 1540 Brewster Place, several blocks south of Xavier University, drew the talents of James Brown, Ruth Lyons, Cowboy Copas, Lonnie Mack, Otis Williams, Bootsy Collins and many others.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.