Longtime Lexington broadcaster Ray Holbrook dies; he also was voice of Blue Grass Airport

Ray Holbrook
Ray Holbrook

Many Lexingtonians might not know who Ray Holbrook was, but they most certainly would recognize his melodious voice.

Mr. Holbrook, a longtime broadcaster who did voice work for Blue Grass Airport and a host of other organizations, died Friday. He was 85.

In addition to newscasting, Mr. Holbrook, who lived in Versailles, did advertising spots for Midway College, Citizens Commerce National Bank, Jack Kain Ford and others.

In 2001, he began recording the public-service announcements that remind travelers at Blue Grass Airport about security-related matters, shopping and dining options, and more.

"We hear his voice every day," said Amy Caudill, director of marketing and community relations at the airport.

She said Mr. Holbrook "was always proud" of being the voice of the airport, and he never charged the airport for his services — at least not monetarily. He preferred a biscuit and gravy, Caudill said.

While he held a number of positions at a variety of media outlets during more than 50 years in broadcasting, Mr. Holbrook spent much of his career at WVLK-590 AM, where he got his start in 1949.

After graduating from Fleming County High School, he earned a degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky.

He did a stint as a captain in the Air Force, and later served in the Air Force Reserve.

During the early 1950s, he worked at WVLK and WLAP, then went on to manage WHIR Radio in Danville.

He returned to WVLK in 1969 and became executive vice president and general manager.

He also served for a while as executive vice president at WKYT-TV.

Both entities were owned at that time by the late Garvice Kincaid's Blue Grass Broadcasting Co.

Mr. Holbrook went on to manage other radio stations and was vice president of the Radio Advertising Bureau, where he served an area that included Washington, D.C., Boston, and Buffalo, N.Y.

He worked in radio in Maryland for several years, then returned to WVLK as news director.

Ralph Hacker said he and Mr. Holbrook worked together for at least 45 years.

He said Mr. Holbrook had a booming voice, but "he never shouted."

Instead, Hacker said, he was always laughing.

"As much as anything in the world, he had integrity," Hacker said. "He was well thought of by anyone that ever dealt with him."

Mr. Holbrook was certainly aware of his credibility with listeners, and it was important to him.

"Be careful what you say, and how you say it," he said in a 2007 interview with the Herald-Leader.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Marjorie S. Holbrook, whom he met at WKYT, and two daughters, Elizabeth Zeigler of Maysville and Leanne Prevatt of Lexington; a son, Steve Holbrook of St. Louis; and six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a daughter.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Midway Christian Church. A reception will follow.