2000 Inductee

Joe Rico probably has done more for jazz than any other broadcast personality in the nation- and he’s done it for more than a half-century. So great was this man’s influence on the jazz world in the 1950s and 60s that several hit records were produced in this honor – including “Jump for Joe” by Stan Kenton, “Prot of Rico” by Count Basie and “Buffalo Joe” by Louis Bellson. His creative programming of jazz started at WWOL in 1949, then expanded to WHLD, WEBR, WGR and WUFO. His smooth style, deep voice and dedication to jazz earmarked him as the epitome of cool and he brought the greatest names in jazz to Western New York clubs and concert halls from Bird to Billie to Basie and Brubeck. It was Joe Rico who broke the color barrier at music venues as early as 1948, with blacks and whites sitting side by side for the first time, and it was Rico who brought the Newport Jazz Festival to Buffalo for 3 years in the 1960s. From 1965 till 1980, he ruled the jazz roost in Miami, both on the air and in the GM’s chair, most notably at WBUS-FM, where he was tabbed ‘The Jazz Godfather.” Upon returning to Buffalo, Rico restored jazz to the commercial airwaves at numerous stations, including WADV-FM and WBUF-FM. Joe’s Rico’s on-air intelligence and musical sensitivity have inspired several generations of radio fans to embrace jazz as an everyday part of their lives.

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