Our friend and colleague, Ray White, passed away on March 7th, 2021 after a battle with cancer at age 69. Ray White dedicated his life to his love of music. He grew up in a home that celebrated it; his mother loved classical and his father jazz, while Ray added rock into the mix. In his teens, a tour of a local radio station in Hartford, Connecticut set off an incredible lifelong career in radio. He wasted no time becoming a fixture at his college radio station before heading to New York to work at the legendary rock station WNEW and smooth jazz CD101. Smooth jazz brought him to San Francisco, hosting afternoons at KKSF, and a few years later he arrived to make his indelible impression at Classical KDFC, helping you start your mornings or wrap up your afternoons for nearly a decade. In 2019, Ray started a new chapter in Denver, working afternoons for CPR Classical. Over the years, Ray reached audiences across the world, broadcasting from the Berlin Wall, Abbey Road, and Yokohama, Japan. Like everywhere else he went, his listeners and colleagues adored him. He had a lifelong passion for guitars, not only collecting them but dedicating years’ worth of Saturday mornings to learning classical guitar. He was an incredible conversationalist as much as anything. Whether he was conducting one of the hundreds of artist interviews he’d done or simply having a casual chat in the studio, his incredible warmth and sensitivity will be missed.
Below are some reflections from his colleagues at KDFC. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Ray was one of the most gifted announcers I have ever worked with. Such a natural presence. I learned a ton from him. And I knew when we worked together on the air that he would have my back. Ray was an amazing father to his son Harrison. He talked about him with such pride and love. I hope Harrison can be comforted by happy memories. – Dianne Nicolini
There are so many ways to honor Ray in memory. He was smooth as silk on air, enthusiastically in love with music of all kinds, quick with a reassuring pat on the back when I was working out the bugs as a new host, and, unwavering in his support and counsel when I was struggling to care for my very ill husband at the end of his life. I like to think Peter was one of the huge crowd of friends welcoming Ray to the other side. I hope you got to take your guitar with you, Ray. Play on! – Robin Pressman
Working with Ray was like working with the Most Interesting Man in the World – he always had a cool story to tell. I always looked forward to yakking with him about music, about guitars, about movies or whatever else would come up. He was a rare talent and a rare human being. – Rik Malone
I am still in shock at the rapid pace at which our friend Ray’s life wound to a close. I will always remember his wicked and quick sense of humor. His stories of his travels and the famous folk he called friend we’re legendary. He battled mobility issues through his adult life, but they hardly slowed him down. He swam for exercise, indeed, he seemed to find freedom in the water as evidenced by his passion for scuba diving. He loved to drive, enjoyed good food, music, and people to share them with. Ray (I always greeted him as “Raymond” which made him smile as that was what his dad called him) and I were born the same year and had a lot of things in common – long careers doing what we love, childhood memories, and more. Raymond, I hope you rest easy in your afterlife. You are loved and missed. Peace, my friend. – Hoyt Smith
I’m not even sure what to say about Ray. So many have said such beautiful things about him that I’m not sure I can add anything else other than I truly enjoyed his light. Sure, he was great on the air but he also knew exactly the right things to say when I wasn’t quite right. He was a really wonderful person and the world has lost a bit of spark with his passing. He’s going to be missed for a very long time. – Linda Cassidy
What I miss most was his combination of slightly testy New Yorker mixed with an abundance of warmth and an infectious laugh. One of those laughs that you didn’t really hear but could see overwhelm his sunny face. We had the best time closing out membership drives in those early public radio days of KDFC. In the intensity of the big finish, we (usually me) would be going off the rails to the point where he couldn’t open the mic, he was laughing so hard, and would just wave at me to continue. That’s what I imagine he is doing now. Joyfully waiving us on to continue. Miss you Ray. – KDFC President, Bill Lueth
Ray was a consummate music lover. All music. He was endlessly curious about it all. You could hear that every day in all the storytelling he brought to his programming at Classical KDFC and the stories he told us behind the scenes. Most of all, I think about how much he cared about the people he connected to via his broadcasts and in person. Anyone who witnessed the welcoming attention he paid to the children who crowded to meet him at KDFC’s Kids Discovery Days could see how much they mattered to him. His joy in the music was infectious to all. – Judy McAlpine, President, USC Radio Group
In lieu of flowers, Ray’s family has requested any donations be made to Music in Schools Today.