Country Radio Host Bob Kingsley Dies at 80, One Week After Announcing Bladder Cancer Diagnosis
National Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Kingsley died on Thursday while receiving treatment for cancer. He was 80.
Kingsley died at his home in Weatherford, Texas, just one week after announcing he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and would be stepping away from his syndicated radio show, Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40.
“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,” he 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.”
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, and business partner, Nan Kingsley.
Kingsley got his start in broadcasting after enlisting with the Air Force when he was 18, becoming an announcer for Armed Forces Radio.
His career skyrocketed in 1978, when he took over as host of American Country Countdown. In addition to the weekly countdown show, he also hosted a variety of special productions, including album release specials for country superstars like Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. During his tenure on the program, the show was named as Billboard’s Network/Syndicated Country Program of the Year for 16 times in a row, from 1987 to 2002.
In 1998, he was named to the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame and he became a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2016. He is also the namesake, as well as the inaugural winner, of the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award, which is presented annually at the Grand Ole Opry House.
Kingsley and his wife established the Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 show in 2006, which still runs on over 320 stations.
“I love the music and the people who make it,” he once said of his career. “I want our listeners to have as much insight into both as I can give them, and to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.”
Following news of his death, many of Kingsley’s colleagues and friends mourned his passing.
“I listened to Bob Kingsley every Sunday. As a child and as a college kid driving from Knoxville to Johnson city. I had heroes in country music and Bob Kingsley brought those heroes closer to me,” Kenny Chesney tells PEOPLE in a statement. “He made them real, made them human, and later when my career took off…. validated my own dream when he would talk about my songs and my journey.”
“He was a friend. Not just an associate within the business but a true friend,” Chesney added. “He was also a true friend of the genre of country music and it will never be the same without his voice. I’m going to miss him.”
Country radio personality Bobby Bones also spoke about how much he admired Kingsley growing up.
“Rest In Peace to Bob Kingsley . I spent many weekends as a kid listening to his countdown. And spent many occasions as I got older telling him how much I admired him,” he wrote on Twitter, alongside photos of the pair together. “This picture is just one of those occasions. Rest easy friend.”
“Brokenhearted to hear of this radio legend’s passing. Bob Kingsley was someone to look up to. A man to learn from, a host we respected,” read another tribute from the Big D and Bubba country music radio show. “He was someone listen to as well as someone to talk to. We are incredibly grateful that we have been blessed to have called Bob a friend.”
A celebration of life will be held in Nashville on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 1:00 p.m. at the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Kingsley’s name to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund.