Country music radio legend Bob Kingsley died Thursday morning at his Weatherford home.
He was 80.
Kingsley announced last week that he was leaving his syndicated radio show, “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40,” to start treatments for bladder cancer.
“While there is no doubt that the immediate road ahead will push me and challenge my resolve, I want you to know I am blessed to be working with the very best in the medical profession, and they have a plan to deal with this awful disease,” Kingsley wrote in a post shared on the Country Top 40 website on Oct. 9. “I have no intention of stopping anytime soon, but for a moment, I need to ask for your patience as I step away from the mic and focus on my treatment.”
Kingsley, who began his radio career when he was 18, helped launch music careers for many stars, including Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney. He took over as host of “American Country Countdown” in 1978 and in 2006 started “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40.”
He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016, and was twice named the Country Music Association’s National Broadcast Personality of the Year. He joined the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016.
In 2014, Kingsley was surprised with a Living Legend Award during a benefit for the Grand Ole Opry Trust. The award honored Kinglsey for his then-40 years in national radio syndication.
The award has since been named the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award and is presented each year at the Grand Ole Opry House. It benefits the Opry Trust Fund.
Billy Bob’s Texas reacted with sadness to the news of Kingsley’s death.
“Bob Kingsley has been one of the most consistent ambassadors for country music for more than four decades,” the venue said in a statement. “He and his wife Nan were familiar faces backstage at Billy Bob’s because he was such a great friend to the artists who perform here. I’m sure many country music performers will say that he and his radio program shape their careers.
“Most recently he was backstage at Billy Bob’s visiting Randy Travis. It’s hard to imagine weekend radio without Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40. We will miss his presence, his voice, his enthusiasm for country music and his kind, gentle nature.”
Mack Daniels, program director at The Wolf 99.5, said when he started out in radio in the 1970s, he wanted to sound like Kingsley.
“It was a shock. There is a big hole right now in country radio and in country music. There is an empty spot where Bob was,” Daniels said.
Kingsley show ran every Sunday from 6-10 a.m. on The Wolf.
Kingsley planned to have female country artists including Trisha Yearwood host the program leading up to the Country Music Association awards next month.
Kingsley was also passionate about helping others. Lyn Walsh and Beverly Branch, who founded a nonprofit called Careity after Kingsley told them to form an organization, said they worked closely with him for over 23 years.
Careit provides early detection screenings for people who are under or uninsured and provides services to cancer patients.
“He was an incredible, gracious and sensitive man,” Branch said.
“It was never about Bob it was about Bob helping people,” she said.
Every year, Kingsley would help recruit country music artists to perform at the Celebrity Cutting, which is Careity’s major fundraiser. When Kingsley interviewed celebrities, he would always ask if they rode cutting horses, Walsh said.
Kingsley was a legend in the cutting horse world.
Todd Barden, marketing director of the National Cutting Horse Association with headquarters in Fort Worth, said country music star Lynn Anderson introduced Kingsley to the cutting horse world in the 1990s.
“We lost a good one. His love an enthusiasm for our sport was contagious,” Barden said.
Barden added that Kingsley was the voice of the NCHA on commercials and promotional videos.
“He was obviously very blessed in his career. He loved people and he loved cutting,” Barden said.
He lived and worked with his wife of 30 years, Nan, on their Bluestem Ranch.
His many charitable endeavors included work for Disabled American Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the Palliative Unit of Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
A celebration of life is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s CMA Theater. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Kingsley’s name to the Country Music Hall of Fame’s All For The Hall campaign or the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.
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