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Lloyd Bryant retiring from Sunday nights on WGUC

Lloyd Bryant has driving from his Dayton area home to the WGUC studios every weekend since May 30, 1982.
Lloyd Bryant has driving from his Dayton area home to the WGUC studios every weekend since May 30, 1982.

Dayton resident has commuted to Cincinnati on weekends for 40 years.

Lloyd Bryant won't be driving from Dayton to host Sunday night classical music on WGUC-FM after this weekend, but he's not slowing down.

Bryant, 81, who wraps up 40 years at the classical music station 8 p.m.-midnight this May 29, still will be recording and narrating performances by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Opera, Bach Society of Dayton, Springfield Symphony Orchestra and other Dayton-area arts or music organizations.

"I started in radio when I was 14 years old, and I just kept doing it," says the retired Air Force major and Vietnam War veteran who was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1976.

"I don't play golf. I tell people this is my golf game. I love doing this stuff," says Bryant, who lives in Beavercreek, southeast of Dayton, exactly one hour and 15 minutes from WGUC's offices in Downtown Cincinnati.

The Georgia native also has been active in Dayton area theater groups; has been the narrator or master of ceremonies for numerous National U.S. Air Force Museum events and programs; and engineered or produced programs for choral groups, church choirs, universities and dance studios. He even did weekend weather for Dayton's WKEF-TV (Channel 22) in 1985 for a year.

Bryant discovered WGUC while driving around Cincinnati in the early 1980s, and thought, "Wouldn't it be great to work for a station like that?"

A short while later, he was asked to record a Michael Smart recital at the Dayton Opera. WGUC's then-General Manager Ann Santen was impressed with his work, and after a conversation, offered him weekend morning shifts in May 1982, while still in the Air Force. He moved to Sunday nights in1996, when new General Manager Brenda Pennel wanted Suzanne Bona to host Sunday Baroque. His 8 p.m. Sunday night Classical Music with Lloyd Bryant is interrupted by Pipedreams (9-10 p.m.)

At WGUC, Bryant was equally impressed by the station's staff (Myron Bennett, Gary Barton, Lisa Ledin, Paul Laumann) in the 1980s as he was with the state-of-the-art turntables, Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorders, microphones and 20,000 vinyl albums.

"I was in hog heaven," says Bryant, who has a basement filled with digital recording and editing equipment he uses to do programs with Dayton-area groups for WDPR-FM (88.1), Dayton's classical music station. He was the first voice heard on WDPR-FM when it signed on Nov. 11, 1985.

Bryant got his Federal Communications Commission license at 14 to be a rock 'n' roll DJ on WBHB-AM in Fitzgerald, Ga. At 18, while pursuing a theater degree his freshman year at Georgia's LaGrange College, a friend offered him a ticket to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It changed his life.

"The concert ended with Stravinsky's 'The Firebird' suite, and that just blew me away. I thought: If that was classical music, I wanted more of that. I've spent my life getting more of that," he says.

"I never did take a music appreciation course. I learned it all on my own."

He joined the Air Force in 1963, and flew B-52s and the F4 Phantoms during the Vietnam War. He earned a bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering after the war from Georgia Tech through the Air Force Institute of Technology program, and was assigned in 1976 to Wright-Patterson's aeronautical systems team which serve as the liaison between Air Force leadership and airplane manufacturers.

Bryant has been so involved with programs, presentation and narration at the base that a commander once called him "the voice of the Air Force Museum."

Music always has been part of his life. He played clarinet and timpani, and sang in the glee club and a quartet in school; his wife Ann plays piano, flute and hand bells. They have four children, 15 grandchildren and four-great-grandchildren.

With more than 5,000 LPs and 3,000 CDs in his personal collection, Bryant has no special plans for his WGUC finale Sunday night.

"I have so many favorites I don't know where to begin. I've been doing it for so long, it's just another Sunday night."

For us, it's the last Sunday night we'll share with Lloyd Bryant.

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.