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WRTI Spotlight

A photo album of WRTI Classical Host Kevin Gordon's 50 years in radio: Part 2

I've been working in the media biz for 50 years, meeting lots of interesting people along the way. This is part 2 of my journey, covering the mid '80s to the present.

Part 1 is here.

When I joined the NBC Radio Network as a news anchor in 1985, I was fully aware upon whose shoulders I was standing. NBC has a rich history. Going on the air in 1926, it became a powerhouse during the Golden Age of Radio. Through its studios passed musical legends such as Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and other big band leaders. Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Burns and Allen and other comedians kept America laughing.

Newscasters H.V. Kaltenborn, Hugh Downs, and Dave Garroway hadn’t been gone long when I started at NBC, and my day-to-day colleagues included Steve Allen, who originated The Tonight Show, Don Pardo, the voice of Saturday Night Live, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the diminutive sex therapist, and Cameron Swayze, the son of John Cameron Swayze of Timex fame.

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As a news anchor on the NBC Radio Network, I had the pleasure of working with several broadcasting legends including Steve Allen and Don Pardo. Here, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer offers some advice in 1987.

Kevin Gordon on the NBC Radio Network in the late 1980s

"I’m set now," I thought, since NBC is practically sacrosanct, as dependable as the tides. But radio is a mercurial business and in 1989, the NBC Radio Network was sold to Westwood One and my colleagues and I were cast to the wind.

All through my broadcast career, I painted. Since my father was a portrait painter, I discovered I had the knack for portraying people on canvas. That blossomed into a concurrent career, painting chairmen, presidents and executives for universities, hospitals, and boardrooms.

Painting uses a completely different part of the brain than radio and one was a comforting change from the other.

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My broadcasting colleagues have always been enthusiastic supporters of my concurrent painting career. "CBS This Morning" host Harry Smith asked me to paint a portrait of his wife, NBC television sportscaster Andrea Joyce and their son, Jake, in 1999.

A couple of years at New York’s all-news station 1010 WINS paved the way for a call from the New York Times classical music station WQXR. Being close to the music I love was an opportunity I couldn't resist. So in 1995, I left the teletype clatter and began anchoring the news on WQXR.

My love of classical music must have shown, because before long I was asked to host a music program and the rest, as they say, is history.

Kevin Gordon on WQXR

"I’m set now," I thought, since WQXR, the flagship station of the venerable New York Times, had been around since 1944, an unwavering staple in the classical music life of the Big Apple. But mercurial is mercurial and in 2009, the Times sold WQXR.

In a classic radio turn of events, in January 2015, I began hosting the afternoon program on Classical South Florida, heard in Palm Beach, Miami, and Naples.

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On the job as afternoon host of Classical South Florida, which served Miami, Palm Beach, and Naples. American Public Media sold the station shortly after they hired me in 2015.

The ratings rose dramatically and I was just settling into Florida life when American Public Media sold the station in July of 2015. Even for me, six months is a record between opening the mic for the first time and closing it for the last.

And that journey is how I came to be your afternoon host on WRTI. I knew I wanted to continue sharing the most beautiful music ever written, and I’m very grateful that WRTI gave me this opportunity and that you continue to make me a part of your lives every afternoon.