Best Radio Personality (2002)

Paris Eley, KCOH/1430 AM

At the stroke of midnight from Monday to Friday, KCOH jock Paris Eley spins part of an electrifying sermon from legendary Memphis Baptist preacher Jasper Williams. As his congregation shouts out words of agreement, the Reverend Williams dwells at length in stunning rhythmic cadence on the nature of midnight, saying things like "rats and mice come out of their holes, looking for cheese -- at midnight," "the party is at its peak -- at midnight," and "Midnight is a most strange and peculiar hour." Eley then segues the song into something appropriate -- for a long time it was Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour." And then the show is off and running, five and a half hours of music fused with musings. Eley has that rare voice that seems to smile all the time, and between cuts of vintage Southern soul and contemporary blues, the DJ, nicknamed "the Prophet," expounds at length on philosophy, world religion and history. Eley should know a lot about history -- he's made plenty himself. After serving as KCOH's program director in the early '70s, Eley spent a quarter-century as a record exec for Motown, CBS and Atlantic and participated in the Harvard Black Music Studies of 1972 and 1997. Four years ago, Eley returned to KCOH, and the wee hours in his hometown haven't been the same since.


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