WNKU Celebrates King Records Month

September is King Records Month, and WNKU will be celebrating the historic Cincinnati-based record label all month long. This is the second year in a row that WNKU has invested time and resources into a month-long celebration of this hugely significant piece of Cincinnati’s music heritage.  

“A lot of people still aren’t aware of just how important a role Cincinnati plays in the history of contemporary music,” says Program Director, Liz Felix. “’The Twist’ was originally recorded in Cincinnati. ‘Fever’, a song made famous by Peggy Lee and recorded by everyone from Elvis to Beyonce was originally recorded in Cincinnati. James Brown’s ‘Funky Drummer’, a song that has been sampled literally thousands of times, was recorded in Cincinnati. All of this on the King Records label. This puts Cincinnati in the company of Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in terms of its place in music history, and we’re celebrating that in a big way on WNKU.”

Here are just some of the ways WNKU will celebrate King Records Month:

Each day, listeners will be treated to songs produced by the legendary label along with the stories behind them as told by King Records insiders and historians. Some of the voices include Brian Powers of the Cincinnati Public Library; James Brown biographer, RJ Smith; and Steve Halper, nephew of King Records founder, Syd Nathan. 

Special recognition will be given throughout the month to James Brown’s “Funky Drummer.” Each day, the station will feature one of the thousands of songs that have sampled “Funky Drummer.” When listeners hear the “Funky Drummer Song of the Day”, they can call in and be registered to win a K-Line Electric Guitar autographed by Bootsy Collins along with a Carr amplifier, courtesy of DHR Guitar Experience in Oakley. 

On Friday, September 2 between 6 and 9 pm, James Brown biographer and Cincinnati Magazine Senior Editor, RJ Smith, will talk with Freekbass and Chris Donnelly about the impact and influence King Records had on the career of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. 

On Saturday, September 10from 7 to 10 pm, R&B host Mr. Rhythm Man will bring in his own private collection of King Records and dedicate his entire show to the label. 

King Records wasn’t just about soul and rock ‘n roll. In 1951, Bobby Osborne would record the first bluegrass songs at King Records with Jimmy Martin while brother Sonny made several recordings at the Rite Records studio in Northside in 1952 and 1953. During Music From the Hills of Home On Sunday, September 11 between 5 and 8 pm, Bluegrass historian, Fred Bartenstein, will stop by and talk about the early years of this duo with host Katie Laur and Oakley Scot. Katie and Oakley Scot will continue to feature the bluegrass side of King Records throughout the month. 

King Records Month will kick off on Saturday, September 3 with an event at Washington Park. This special day will feature local acts Eclipse Movement, Pike 27, The Perfect Children, and The Midwestern Swing, performing the songs of King Records. Headlining the event is Tony Wilson, performing as “Young James Brown.” Music begins at 3pm with WNKU personalities on hand to host throughout the day. 

More information can be found online at www.wnku.org. King Records Month on WNKU is made possible by the support of WNKU members, the Big Joe Duskin Foundation, and DHR Guitar Experience.