Monday, March 2, 2015


Last week Cephas Bowles died from leukemia at age 62.  Bowles was perhaps best known for his years running WBGO, based in Newark serving the nation’s largest market. At ‘BGO – Jazz 88.3 – he brought the station to full market coverage, raised millions of dollars and hired an incredibly talented staff.


I first met Cehpas in 1986 when he was running KUAT in Tucson and I started my first noncommercial GM job at KCSU, Fort Collins.  Both stations were then members of Rocky Mountain Public Radio (RMPR), a regional representation organization.  RMPR was a terrific resource for a newcomer like me. In the mid 1980s, RMPR managers included Max Wycisk (Colorado Public Radio), Bill Hurt (KUNC), Karen Holp (then at KRWG – now at KGOU), Jim Paluzzi (then at KBSU, now KJZZ), Carl Matthusen (former President of the NPR Board & GM at KJZZ) and Cephas Bowles.

I was like a fish out of water when I started at KCSU.  I had managed and programmed commercial stations but I wasn’t aware of the idiosyncrasies of working for a university license. I was having difficulty dealing with the reality that the licensee had no idea they were in the broadcasting business.

I told Cephas about my situation when I was in Tucson for a RMPR conference.  He gave me practical advice that worked.  He and I kept in touch the rest of the time I was at KCSU – he was mentor and friend when I really needed it. Cephas made a difference for me and everyone in public radio.

Bowles’ family requests donations to Syracuse University Black Alumni, WBGO or Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide.

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