Bill Bailey, disc jockey known as 'Duke of Louisville,' dies at age 81

kward1@herald-leader.comJanuary 15, 2012 

On April 20, 1994, Bill Bailey entertained listeners for the last time before retiring.

JANET WORNE | STAFF

Bill Bailey, 81, a longtime radio disc jockey known as the "Duke of Louisville," died Saturday morning at Norton Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville.

With a gravelly voice and an outspoken brand of humor, Mr. Bailey, born William Boahn, was an on-air personality for more than 30 years at radio stations in Louisville, most notably at WAKY 790 AM during the 1970s.

He later spent more than four years as an afternoon DJ on WVLK in Lexington before retiring in 1994.

WVLK host Jack Pattie said Saturday that in the 1960s and '70s, WAKY was a very popular rock station among teenagers in Louisville and Lexington.

"He was what everybody listened to," Pattie said. "I think he was one of the best broadcaster communicators ever. He was a huge influence in my career."

After retiring from WVLK, Mr. Bailey moved back to Louisville.

His daughter Faith Chapman said he had a stroke about 13 years ago, which required him to use a wheelchair, but "he never lost his personality."

As a resident of a nursing home in Pewee Valley, she said he did morning announcements over the public address system and had frequent visits from fans.

He enjoyed painting and said in a 1989 Herald-Leader article that he would "rather paint pictures than anything.

"But I do enjoy radio because it's so easy for me," he said. "I don't like to do anything that's difficult."

Mr. Bailey is survived by a son and three daughters.

Services will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Pearson-Ratterman Brothers Funeral Home on Shelbyville Road in Middletown. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.

Reach Karla Ward at (859)231-3314 or 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 3314.

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