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Sat, 09.02.1922

Leigh Kamman, Jazz Ambassador born

Leigh Kamman

*Leigh Kamman was born on this date in 1922.  He was a white-American radio announcer.  

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota; he became intrigued with jazz in the 1930s when he was 12 years old, doing odd jobs and working at a resort in central Minnesota. His parents and their friends would get together to listen to 78-rpm discs, and he began to appreciate the music. By the end of his teenage years, Kamman was fully in love with the art form. He worked for his school newspaper and, when he was 17 years old, found a way to meet Duke Ellington at the Pavillion, where he was playing in St Paul. 

A St. Paul Central H.S. graduate, his first on-air job was at KUOM radio at the University of Minnesota. His first jazz broadcast occurred in 1940 from WMIN radio, where he worked as a custodian. He moved to WEBC in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1942 but didn't become comfortable with the medium of radio until he found work with the U.S. Army during World War II, broadcasting from KOA in Denver, Colorado, with shows that were carried on Armed Forces Radio.  He moved on to WOV in New York in 1950, where he interviewed some of the biggest names in jazz from the Palm Cafe in Harlem

Kamman returned to the Twin Cities following the war, going to work at WLOL in 1956 and later was heard over KSTP for many years, along with KQRS-AM/FM would link up with other NBC stations around the country to share the music that was being played in different cities. In 1973, Kamman began hosting The Jazz Image on Minnesota Public Radio.  For the next 34 years, this weekly program showcased the music and culture of American Jazz from a local, national, and global perspective.  On September 29, 2007, he hosted his last edition of The Jazz Image on Minnesota Public Radio, which he has run since 1973.

Kamman has been honored numerous times for his contributions to the region. In 2003, the Minnesota Museum of Broadcast Hall of Fame stated on his award: "Known for his poetic, scene setting style and for his vast knowledge and sincere love of music.  He has been an outstanding broadcaster and a tireless champion of America’s original art form."

Leigh Kamman, who has focused on bringing jazz music to the airwaves for his career, which spanned over six decades died on October 17, 2014, aged 92.  

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