614 Radio Legend: Kevin “The Man About” Townes by DJ Layne Luv
Blogger Sidenote: This is a very special blog post for me because, most people think my musical passion lies solely in DJing. While this is true, however, most that know me, know that I have a white-heat adoration for the occupation of radio & broadcasting. To provide a bigger fun fact, although my followers know that Tom “The Fly Jock” Joyner is my current radio idol, my aspirations of wanting to be a disc jockey started with a gentleman by the name of Walt “Baby” Love and his show entitled “The Countdown”. I used to sit and listen to him every Sunday by the window seal.
Now I don’t know where you might be from, but but back in day in Columbus Ohio, if you were a radio disc jockey, you were THE hometown celebrity to be. You were “The Man” or Woman, and had much “juice” in my city. Names like Kirk Bishop, Eddie Saunders, The Nassau Daddy himself Bill Moss (CapSoul Records), Les Brown, Mike Reeves, KC Jones, and Mel Griffin ring bells in the city of Columbus to this very day. Unfortunately I can’t name a lot of female jocks because as James Brown put it best…it was a “Man’s World” back then. When acts would come to town like The Whispers, The Temptations, The Bar Kays, and The Commodores the jocks would get as much attention from the ladies as the headlining acts.
This leads me to the gentleman we’re spotlighting in this blog. I came to know this guy about three years ago. He would always support my internet broadcast as if he had a vested interest to see me win. Eventually I just bonded with his spirit. Shortly after, I was able to witness him in action doing an internet show on Jamz.com. But this is not just a story about one man’s journey in radio…this is a story about a man’s fight for his life, for his legacy to be remembered, and to let the world know that Kevin Flemister aka Kevin Townes cares about the City Of Columbus, it’s rich history, and the business of entertainment.
Kevin Townes grew up in the Lincoln Projects on the Southside of Columbus. He is a graduate of South High School Class of 1984. During his teenage years, he became heavily influenced by the live broadcasts hosted by hometown legend Kirk Bishop at the Eastside skating rink. Through methodical planning, Kevin and some of his friends decided they would host a replica skate parties in their community recreation center (Barack). The venture proved to be more successful than the gentlemen thought. People from all over the city were coming to the recreation center to attend the skate parties. That provided the push for Kevin to dream about becoming an on-air disc jockey.
Nothing short of a Howard Stern movie….Kevin went on to attend Ohio University. During his freshman year, Townes got a job on the South Green Campus at the college radio station called WSGR. Townes moniker at that time was Kool DJ Kev! The thrill for Kevin was short lived after he grew bored of his responsibilities at the WSGR. To Townes, he felt like he could do more and wanted to do more with his career. After a year and a half of frustration Kevin dropped out of college altogether.
Following his instinct, he returned to Columbus and an old friend by the name of Frank Kelly was starting up an independent community hip hop radio station called CTNT. But what gave the station it’s claim to fame was, while other stations would only play top 100 R&B and safe hip hop…. CTNT was playing rap records like LL Cool J Rock The Bells, UTFO Roxanne Roxanne, and Run DMC Rockbox. “And we weren’t just playing the singles…we were playing the album cuts too!” said Townes. Anybody from that era knows that you could only get that station through a cable receiver, however, tapes of the mix shows were in high circulation and duplication around the city.
In 1987, Townes went from CTNT to the Columbus Hip Hop infamous Z103 (Sunday Night At The Raps). Through diligence and loyalty, the program director took a liking to Flemister. Once a spot opened up, Kevin was asked to do live overnights. While Kevin was working, he noticed that the city looked to him to find out where all the cool places were to go, and all the events that ruled the night. The town was his, even if it was for that 4 hour brief air shift….thus the name was born…Kevin Townes. Kevin liked the freedom he had to develop himself and play the songs he wanted to play to set the tone for the city that evening. It’s so important to document that, because corporations will never allow that kind of freedom again. The reason for this, is that they don’t want the city getting too comfortable with a personality, less they get fired and don’t welcome the replacement with the same love & respect and above anything else….lose loyal listeners.
In 1990, Townes radio world came Full-circle when KC Jones asked him to come over to 1580AM WVKO to host Blue Monday. A radio tradition in Columbus established and popularized by the late great Kirk Bishop. Of course they were big shoes to fill, but Kevin did it his way and the city loved him for it.
In ’92 Kevin lands himself back at Jack Harris aka Papa Jack’s 106.3fm and the station is going through the transition because Power 106 is setting up to be ran by Bluechip Broadcasting with Frank Kelly and Warren Stevens signed on a program directors. Once Corporate got its hands on urban radio….everything changed and not for the good. The jocks were told what to play and what to say. It’s riding in a Dodge Charger with a 4 cylinder engine…what’s the point LOL? But that didn’t stop Kevin’s hustle drive. He also hosted a Hip-Hop television video show called Music Video Avenue from ’93-’96
In 1996, Kevin’s world crossed paths with a young man from Louisville Kentucky. The man from Louisville would change how Columbus Ohio would hear urban radio forever. Enter Paul Strong. On the drive to Columbus, Paul heard Kevin’s Sunday broadcast, and decided Townes had the chops he needed for his show. The deal was offered and from that point, he became the pioneer and original member to what is now known in radio history as The Power Morning Crew. After Townes stint with Power, he did other things, but that was the last time he did radio on that grand of a scale.
But the true story is where Kevin found redemption and where he really found out what he was made of as a man. In 2013, Townes was experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. After a number of misdiagnosis, it was finally discovered that Kevin had a leaky heart valve and caused his health to decline tremendously. Kevin Townes could have chose to be private about his affairs, however he had the same epiphany I had when it came to social media…it was media…which meant he could use that platform to tell his story and be an encouragement to others.
Procedure after procedure Kevin would ask for the prayers of his followers right before a surgery and would always say encouraging words to his friends after overcoming each trial. As we acknowledged his fight to live, Kevin also inspired hope in other people though his videos of promoting heart health awareness and spirituality.
Kevin is no longer working in terrestrial radio. But for everything he’s been through, and continuing to go through, he remains in good spirits and when he can, whether it’s internet radio or a Facebook video, he lets you know that HE IS STILL KEVIN “YOUR MAN ABOUT” TOWNES!
Follow him on Facebook
under: Kevin Flemister-Townes