Country radio legend Bob Kingsley passed away on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 at his home in Weatherford, Texas. He was 80-years-old and had been receiving treatment for bladder cancer. One week earlier, he announced that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and would be stepping away from Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40.
Kingsley got his start in radio in 1959 while in the Air Force. At the time, he was 18 and became an announcer for the Armed Forces Radio Service station in Keflavik, Iceland. From there, he worked at stations in Las Vegas and Tijuana, Mexico until he landed a job at Los Angeles country station KGBS in 1961. In 1970, he then became program director at KLAC, which switched to a country format.
Throughout his career, he worked his way up from DJ to program director to host and eventually nationally syndicated radio personality. In 1974, he became the producer of the nationally syndicated American Country Countdown and in 1978, he became the new host. After that, ACC was named Billboard‘s Network/Syndicated Program of the Year for 16 consecutive years. As he racked up the accolades for ACC, it was clear that Kingsley had become a truly beloved voice of country music.
He then moved on to become the longtime host of the nationally syndicated program Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 after exiting ACC in 2005. The show became the most successful of its kind, making him the king of the country countdown for over four decades.
Kingsley's contributions to the genre are evident through his numerous honors, which include two-time recipient of the CMA’s National Broadcast Personality of the Year, ACM National Broadcast Personality of the Year, and the Living Legend Award. In fact, Kingsley was the inaugural recipient of the Living Legend Award in 2014. The award now bears his name and recognizes notable music industry professionals annually at the Grand Ole Opry House.
Additionally, Kingsley was inducted into the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998. He was later inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016, making him the format’s fifth representative in the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Kingsley was dedicated to country music and ensuring that listeners got a view into the music and artists alike. Even earlier this month, while battling bladder cancer, Kingsley announced a CMA Awards partnership that would feature female artists taking over his microphone as he underwent medical treatment.
Kingsley left a lasting impression on the radio industry and music industry alike. For six decades, he was a steady presence on the air and worked to connect listeners with their favorite artists, focusing on the human. “I love the music and the people who make it,” he once said, “and I want our listeners to have as much insight into both as I can give them, and to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.”
As a child, Kingsley remembered listening to the radio, connecting with certain shows, and feeling "it was complete escapism and entertainment." Obviously, that stayed with him throughout his entire life as he speaked directly to listeners in hopes they shared his passion.
Kingsley's legacy lives on with Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 that still runs on over 320 stations. He is survived by his wife of 30 years and business partner who he established Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 with in 2006.
On Nov. 14, there will be a celebration of life at the CMA Theater in the Country Music Hall of Fame beginning at 1pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Kingsley’s name to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.
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