Dec. 12, 1936 – Nov. 16, 2012
Jefferson Kaye, a four-time Emmy Award-winning broadcast announcer, died Friday in his home in Binghamton after a battle with cancer. He was 75.
Mr. Kaye rose to local prominence first at WKBW-AM Radio in the mid-1960s, followed by a stint at WBEN-AM Radio in the early 1980s, before moving on to a career with NFL Films in 1985.
Mr. Kaye, whose given name was Martin J. Krimski, first made his mark in broadcasting at WBZ, a radio station in Boston, Mass., in 1961. However, it was in Buffalo that he found his niche when he was hired to host the 7 p.m. to midnight show at WKBW in 1966. During what some have described as the “Golden Age of KB Radio,” Mr. Kaye garnered the loyalty of local teens with the launch of his “Teenage Underground” show, of which he was the undisputed leader. On the air, Mr. Kaye would collude with his eager young audience, telling them: “I know your parents think you’re home, but the ‘Teenage Underground’ never sleeps!”
Not only did Mr. Kaye inspire loyalty from his young fans, but also from those who worked under him when he took the helm as program director at KB in 1968.
“Jeff Kaye was a magnificent program director and an even better man,” said WBEN Radio announcer Sandy Beach, a former WKBW announcer.
Mr. Kaye “encouraged us to ‘go for it’ every time we were on the air. He recognized, hired and nurtured talent. His imagination and innovative instinct was without peer,” Beach added.
In 1968, Mr. Kaye and other on-air staffers at the 50,000-watt station were responsible for lighting up telephone switchboards at radio police dispatch centers and civil defense agencies from Maine to Maryland, following a live radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” which was an adaptation of Orson Welles’ famous 1938 broadcast of the same title.
As the radio broadcasting trend shifted away from talk and more toward pop and rock music in the 1970s, Mr. Kaye launched a powerhouse lineup of Top 40 radio personalities, including Beach, Danny Neaverth, Tom Shannon and future “Price is Right” announcer Rod Roddy, among others.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Kaye moved to WBEN Radio, where he was able to take the helm for local production of Bills’ play-by-play. He also produced and hosted an afternoon magazine format show featuring a mix of local guests, national authors, sports figures, off-beat features and topical news.
Mr. Kaye moved on to NFL Films, with co-founder Steve Sabol, in 1985, narrating hundreds of documentaries from “Team Highlights” to “Road to the Super Bowl.”
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; three daughters, Anne, Judith and Sarah; and a son, Peter.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.