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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge

One of the first bandleaders to become a radio celebrity, Kay Kyser was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on June 18, 1906. Kyser formed his first dance band in 1926 at the University of North Carolina.

The band was playing Chicago’s Blackhawk Restaurant in 1937 when Kyser came up with "Kay’s Klass," a freewheeling combination of community sing, amateur night and audience quiz. The show was re-christened Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge and WGN/Chicago gave it a trial run on the air. In 1938, the show moved to New York and became an instant hit on NBC.

As "The Ol’ Perfessor," Kyser greeted listeners with his trademark "Evenin’, folks. How y’all?" while wearing a long robe and mortarboard hat. Contestants were often given a "true-false" quiz and expected to offer "false" answers to "true" statements. When they did, Kyser proclaimed "That’s right, you’re wrong!"

Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge ran on radio until 1949. Kyser retired from show business in the early 1950s and later became manager of the film and broadcasting department of the Christian Science Church.

Kay Kyser died on June 23, 1985.

Kay Kyser was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.


  1. Little known then or now, Kay Kyser paid his band's way throughout WWII touring camps at no cost to the Gov't. After the Was he established a Vets hospital in NC. He was a patriot and no one knew it. Thanks for the shows.

  2. Kay was an incredible bandleader - he presided over this combination audience-participation series and themed quiz over the NBC Radio Network.



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References: Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Wikipedia, Frank Passage & Others OTR Logs, Archive.org, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio by John Dunning, Australian Old Time Radio Group

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