Bob Kingsley, a celebrated voice in country radio that impacted airwaves for 60 years, died Thursday at his home in Weatherford, Texas, after a battle with cancer. He was 80 years old.
Kingsley began his widespread influence on country radio in 1978 as the host of popular syndicated program “American Country Countdown.” He maintained the role in 2006, helping shape a generation of country music listeners.
“I listened to Kingsley every Sunday,” Kenny Chesney told the Tennessean, “as a child and as a college kid driving from Knoxville to Johnson City. I had heroes in country music and Bob Kingsley brought those heroes closer to me. He made them real, made them human.
“He was a friend,” Chesney continued. “Not just an associate within the business, but a true friend. He was also a true friend of the genre of country music and it will never be the same without his voice. I am going to miss him.”
Kingsley joined the Air Force at age 18, cutting his teeth as an on-air personality on Armed Forces Radio before working at stations in Texas and Los Angeles. As host of “American Country Countdown,” Kingsley expanded the show from a weekly countdown to also include holiday specials and album release programs with artists such as Chesney, George Jones, Alabama and Taylor Swift.
He launched “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40” in 2006 alongside business partner and wife of 30 years, Nan Kingsley. The show runs today on an estimated 320 stations, a news release said.
Kingsley entered the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998 and National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016. Kingsley’s legacy extends to the Grand Ole Opry, where he’s the namesake and first recipient of the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award. Presented each year since 2014, this honor benefits the Opry Trust Fund.
"All of our greatest memories have his name attached to them," Garth Brooks said in 2014.
He is survived by his wife, Nan, whom he lived and worked with on their Bluestem Ranch in Texas.
A celebration of Kingsley's life will be held at the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Nov. 14th. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Kingsley’s name to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.