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Willis Conover
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Radio Personality
    (December 18, 1920-May 17, 1996)
    Born in Buffalo, New York
    Hosted 'Jazz Hour' on Voice of America (1955-96)
    Announcer and emcee at several Newport Jazz Festivals
    Recorded 'The City Streets' with guitarist Charlie Byrd
    Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Downbeat magazine (1995)
    Because Voice of America was prohibited from broadcasting to the US, he was little known in his own country.
    He was a chain smoker, which probably contributed to the lung cancer that killed him.
    Attempts to get him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom began during the Clinton administration, and some 20 years later have come to naught (as of 2015).
    As a concert promoter, he desegregated Washington, DC, nightclubs.
    Many Eastern European listeners learned English from his broadcasts thanks to his slow and clear delivery and use of scripts written in simplified English.
    He was mobbed by crowds during visits to Eastern Europe.
    He persuaded the Nixon administration to host a 70th birthday celebration for Duke Ellington at the White House and assembled the all-star band that performed at the festivities
    His on-air interviews with jazz legends like Ellington, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman and Art Tatum were chosen by the Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry as 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.'
    The New York Times wrote, 'In the long struggle between the forces of communism and democracy, Mr. Conover proved more effective than a fleet of B-29s.'

Credit: C. Fishel

    In 2018, Out of 5 Votes: 40.0% Annoying
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