One of the first bandleaders to become a radio celebrity, Kay Kyser was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on June 18, 1906. Kyser formed his first dance band in 1926 at the University of North Carolina.
The band was playing Chicago’s Blackhawk Restaurant in 1937 when Kyser came up with "Kay’s Klass," a freewheeling combination of community sing, amateur night and audience quiz. The show was re-christened Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge and WGN/Chicago gave it a trial run on the air. In 1938, the show moved to New York and became an instant hit on NBC.
As "The Ol’ Perfessor," Kyser greeted listeners with his trademark "Evenin’, folks. How y’all?" while wearing a long robe and mortarboard hat. Contestants were often given a "true-false" quiz and expected to offer "false" answers to "true" statements. When they did, Kyser proclaimed "That’s right, you’re wrong!"
Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge ran on radio until 1949. Kyser retired from show business in the early 1950s and later became manager of the film and broadcasting department of the Christian Science Church.
Kay Kyser died on June 23, 1985.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.