Have you ever heard of the “Cool Gent” of the airwaves? Would you like to know how much Herb Kent net worth in 2022 as the longest-running DJ in radio history?
Neither a bird nor a plane soared the radio airwaves; it was none other than The Cool Gent, Herb Kent, who entertained listeners for seven fabulous decades as a well-respected DJ.
He set the record as the longest-running DJ in radio history, a career he held onto since he was a teen. And he was topping the list of the most famous African-American radio personalities in the country alongside Steve Harvey, Petey Greene, and Chuck Leonard.
Herb Kent net worth is estimated at $3M, and still making millions after his passing in 2016 at the age of 88. Kent made his last broadcast on the morning of his death, October 22nd, 2016. He is survived by a daughter and grandchild with rights to at least a portion of Herb Kent net worth.
Kent was given a number of prestigious awards and recognition for his dedication to his work and for becoming such a legendary influence for many young DJs to follow. But who exactly is Herb Kent? Which deciding factors led him to this industry?
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Herb Kent Early Life and Career Beginnings
Kent was raised in the South Side of Chicago. From early childhood, music was a big part of Kent; he fell in love with the steady melodic beat of rhythm and blues. Young Herb had all the clubs listed in his head. He would spend a lot of time listening just outside the places and peering through windows where bands would be practicing their music.
Sure there have been radio presenters or radio disc jockeys as young as 12 years old. But Kent got his first gig as the host of a classical music program for Chicago’s WBEZ in 1944. It was the experience that decided his future. Kent was 16 years old at the time, attending Hyde Park High School, a Public school in Chicago, Illinois.
From then to the 1950s, he got involved with the local theater club and other workshops to boost his improv skills in preparation for his DJ-ing career. And in 1952, he got a shot with WGES Radio.
Herb Kent First Radio Post
24-year-old Herb Kent caught an early break and became the host for a one-hour country and western show with WGES Radio. He was immediately noticed as a talented young broadcaster. And like every radio DJ on air with their engaging voice, intros, and signature lines, Kent had his own distinctive style that managed to charm a substantial fanbase all over the state. After three years, Kent got the Head Announcer position at WBEE Radio.
Herb Kent King of the Dusties
Kent also became a radio personality at WBEE Radio in the early 1950s. He coined the term “dusty records” to reference outdated rhythm and blues songs, collecting dust in the groves of old records. It was a simple, clever way of enticing people from all over the country to tune in, listen to songs almost unheard of, and surprise them with great music.
Herb Kent The Cool Gent
Herb Kent was also referred to as The Cool Gent. According to the author of Chicago Soul and writer mainly on soul and rhythm and blues music, and on sports, Robert Pruter “Unlike many other deejays of the day, black or white, he never shouted or screamed or used an artificial pattern. He always talked in a conversational, ultra-cool style.”
The distinct voice and background knowledge of music is about half of what makes a good radio DJ. The more important half is keeping lively conversations with guests and people participating in discussions with the host, engaging and interesting. It was always a natural flow of exchanges with Kent on the reins.
Unfortunately, especially during those times, engaging also slightly translates as aggressive, confrontational, and even controversial. This made personalities like Kent even more important. Because despite being somewhat of an activist himself, Kent used grace and a welcoming disposition to encourage people to participate in important conversations on and off-air.
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Herb Kent Career Recognitions
- In 1995, Kent was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
- In 2009, Kent was recognized by Guinness World Records for the “Longest career as a radio presenter/DJ (male).”A Guinness representative officially recognized him at a ceremony in Chicago.
- In 2015, Kent received the Chicago Crusader’s Crusading Pioneer Award.
- In 2016, Kent received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Chicago Defender and Real Times Media at the Men of Excellence Awards Dinner in Chicago.
Herb Kent Important Trivia – Fun Facts
- Herb Kent taught radio broadcasting in his spare time.
- Kent was the host of Steppin’ at Club 7, a dance program on WLS-TV in Chicago in the mid-1990s.
- Kent MCed for the rally, “Freedom Summer,” held by the late Martin Luther King Jr. at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. And after King’s assassination, Kent became the voice calling for calm as chaos and riots spread the streets.
- Kent took aspiring broadcaster Don Cornelius, under his wing, who later created the hit music-dance television program “Soul Train.” Cornelius hosted the show from 1971 to 1993, with it becoming a legend himself. The program last aired in 2006.
- Kent was also involved in a few films, namely Love Jones (1997), Of Boys and Men (2008), and Steppin: A Chicago Dance (2009).
Herb Kent – Questions People Also Ask
Who was Herb Kent’s Wife?
It was never confirmed if Herb Kent ever married. Before his death, Kent was in a relationship with Linda Stanford, who was also named the executor of his will. They were never married.
But Kent still had next of kin. He had a biological child, an only daughter named Robbyn Kent, the mother of Kent’s only grandchild. They had legal claims to part, if not all, of Herb Kent net worth.
Why is this important? Robbyn and Herb had a close father-daughter relationship, but Kent did not leave them with anything according to his will. Many found it questionable and seemingly agreed to Robbyn’s suspicions that Stanford might have taken advantage of Kent, who suffered dementia.
Was There A Popular Herb Kent Playlist?
Herb Kent had no specific or favored music playlist, but he did leave his fans decades worth of recordings while he was on air playing music or having a grand conversation with his listeners and guests. These can be found all over the internet; on different websites, social media platforms, and YouTube.
Both fans and famous people from the radio and broadcasting industry dedicated songs and playlists to Herb Kent, mostly old songs from Kent’s “dusty records.”
How Much Was Herb Kent Net Worth?
Herb Kent net worth is around $3M and perhaps, more. The legendary icon of radio broadcasting, where he dedicated 70 years in marketing the broadcasting industry through music and fond memories. Kent accepted paid performances, private gigs and taught at the Chicago State University for many years. These are just some factors to base Herb Kent net worth on.
What is Herb Kent’s Cause of Death?
After more than 70 years of exceptional service to his fans, The Cool Gent passed away at 88 years old on October 22, 2016. There is no confirmed indication that he suffered from an illness that could have endangered his life. His death probably surprised millions of people, especially his listeners, when he finished a broadcast that morning of October 22nd.
The Chicago Tribune expressed this loss by dedicating a short article about the life of an icon who was born and raised in Chicago. He was praised for his work ethic and passion for his chosen profession, which he proudly held up to his final V103 broadcast that Saturday morning.
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Herb Kent Net Worth – Closing Thoughts
With all his recognition and achievements, it’s safe to assume that Herb Kent’s net worth hovered in the millions through years of success in the radio and broadcasting industry.
He was a very influential radio personality who helped launch acts such as the successful vocal group from Detroit, The Temptations, and the sensational Motown frontman, Smokey Robinson.
Herb Kent wasn’t only an American icon; he became the inspiration of millions of people all over the country, especially during the ‘50s through the ‘70s when times were most unstable.
His voice was probably like therapy and a distraction from the mountain of stifling issues during those times. He may be gone, but many are following Kent’s legacy and filling the airwaves with great music in his place.
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Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.