The Cool Gent

The Cool Gent
The Cool Gent

The Cool Gent

The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent
By Herb Kent, By David Smallwood, Foreword by Mayor Richard M. Daley


272 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, PDF, Mobipocket, EPUB

Cloth, $24.95 (US $24.95) (CA $27.95)

ISBN 9781556527746

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Feb 2009)
Lawrence Hill Books


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A behind-the-scenes look at African American music and the radio business from the 1950s into the 21st century
When Herb Kent was a straight-A college student in the 1940s, his white professor told him, “You have the best voice in class, but you’ll never make it in radio because you’re a Negro.” This did not deter the poor kid from the Chicago housing projects who had decided on a radio career at age five. It was just one more obstacle to face head on and overcome.             Known as the Cool Gent, the King of the Dusties, and the Mayor of Bronzeville, Herb Kent is one of radio’s most illustrious and legendary stars. This fascinating autobiography details both the high and low points of Herb's life while providing a vivid picture of black music, culture, and personalities from the 1950s to today. Herb had a typical rock-and-roll lifestyle—drugs, alcohol, all-night partying, and women—eventually hitting rock bottom, where he finally faced his personal demons. At least nine times Herb came close to death, but through it all, he maintained his debonair, classy persona and his uncanny knack for picking timeless tunes. And he didn’t save only himself; along the way, he blazed new trails for all African Americans and remains a role model for today's top deejays.


"Truly, a legendary radio personality. Like all of his adoring fans, I applaud Herb for his nearly 65 years of contributions to Chicago’s radio airwaves and for furthering his inspirational reach through this book." —Richard M. Daley, mayor, Chicago

"Herb Kent is one of the great DJs of all time, and one of the great human beings of all time." —Gene Chandler, "Duke of Earl"

"Herb Kent is more than a radio legend. He’s an American icon, and anyone who has ever heard him on-air knows why . . . Mr. Kent’s charm and wit have earned the respect of millions of devoted fans and listeners and have inspired a number of aspiring African-American broadcasters . . . as far as I'm concerned, the Cool Gent’s story is long overdue." —Rod R. Blagojevich, governor, Illinois

"Herb’s distinctive voice has entertained and informed Chicagoans for more than 60 years . . . this book will give readers a tremendous opportunity to experience the life, both personal and professional, of Herb Kent, one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!" —Earl Jones, president, Clear Channel Radio Chicago

"Herb Kent paved the road of success that I'm on today." —Tom Joyner, radio host, The Tom Joyner Morning Show

"Very good read from a legendary radio giant." —Otis Williams, The Temptations

"This fine gentleman is loved by everyone, and was born to be 'the Greatest Jock' ever, and that's what he is." —The Mighty Dells: Marvin Junior, Verne Allison, Chuck Barksdale, Michael McGill, and Johnnie Carter

"A remarkable collection of historical facts in radio, music and Blackness incorporated with Kent history." —Chicago Defender

Author Biography

Herb Kent is an urban radio pioneer and legendary DJ who first went on the air in 1944 and still broadcasts today. He was the first African American to be inducted into the Museum of Broadcasting Radio Hall of Fame. He teaches broadcasting at Chicago State University. David Smallwood is a journalist and the coauthor of Profiles of Great African Americans. He is a founder of, contributor to, and former editor of N'Digo, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, and a former reporter and editor for the Chicago Sun-Times and Jet Magazine. Mayor Richard M. Daley has been the mayor of Chicago since 1989.