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Friday, 14 January 2011 09:30

R.I.P. Gene Roberts: A Legend of Country Radio

R.I.P. Gene Roberts: A Legend of Country Radio Sara Finke
Written by Roy Kasten
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The music community of St. Louis (and beyond) is saddened by the news of Gene Roberts' passing on January 12, 2011. Gene was 82 years old.

Streaming Audio

Listen to the first hour of Gene's 2007 Hank Williams Special (which originally aired January 2, 2007).

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Gene was the long-time host of Country Function, Bluegrass Junction on 88.1 KDHX, and an influential and beloved figure on the traditional country music scene in Missouri. His involvement with radio dates back to the 1940s. Before going on-air with KDHX in the early '90s, Gene broadcasted with WGNU, KWRE and KCLC. His birthday parties were always well-attended, joyous celebrations of old time music and he supported local and national musicians by regularly hosting them in the KDHX studios, interviewing them on-air and playing their records. Gene also hosted the annual Hank Williams Special on 88.1 KDHX, a 2-hour radio show that brought together some of the finest musicians in St. Louis to cover songs by the legend.

His trademark exclamation, "Mighty fine!," is just one way to describe his spirit.

88.1 KDHX programmer sub (and former host of Biddle Street Beat, among other shows), Tony C. recalls learning from Gene: "I remember him as a very warm, even-handed person. He really served as a mentor to many of the programmers back in the early years of the station. He also knew about a lot of different genres -- rockabilly, blues -- beyond just country."

Larry Allen, who co-hosted Country Function, Bluegrass Junction with Gene, recalls: "He was just a very nice guy. I originally came on just as a board operator but Gene welcomed me with open arms and invited me to co-host with him. There will never be another Gene Roberts."

Funeral arrangements: Bradford Funeral Home, 305 N. Main, Summersville, MO 65571

Visitation: Saturday, Jan. 15 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Funeral: Sunday, Jan. 16 2 p.m.

All photos by Sara Finke.

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