St. Louis media icon Bernie Hayes details expansive career, new role at National Blues Museum
Longtime media persona Bernie Hayes’ broadcasting journey started while he was growing up in “cold Chicago.” As a teen, he noticed how tuned in many fellow citizens were to the radio as they started their workdays.
“Seeing people going to catch a streetcar [or] going to factories, and listening to the people on the radio send them to the factories, I said, ‘That’s the job I want – [to be] the one who’s on the radio sending them off to the factories.’ And so I pursued a career in broadcasting,” Haynes added.
The former radio host and journalist detailed his expansive career and various roles in the media and music industry across the region with host Don Marsh on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.
Hayes’ previous gigs include being a disc jockey, performer, print and broadcast journalist, radio and television announcer, columnist, and recording artist and producer. He also served as a news director at KWMU.
Listen to Hayes’ single “Cool Strut,” which he recorded for Stax Records:
Hayes considers his works as all falling under the umbrella of entertainment, broadcasting and communication.
“It was never a transition … I’ve never transitioned from one thing to another, it was all part of the same genre,” he explained. “News is a segment of it, disc jockey is a segment of it, producing is a segment – it’s all one thing.”
Some ways Hayes currently keeps busy include writing for the St. Louis American, being an educator at Webster University, curating for the Wolff Jazz Institute at Harris-Stowe State University – and now serving as the interim executive director of the National Blues Museum. He’s involved on the museum’s board of directors as well.
Hayes will lead the national search process for a new executive director, but will stay “real active” in the interim role in the meantime.
“Certain people had certain objectives and different goals; and they were on a path not like what the Board wanted,” Hayes said, citing internal differences as the cause for the former executive director’s departure. “It was just two different roads, [but] now the path has been cleared and everything is just fine.”
Listen to the full conversation to hear Hayes’ thoughts on the evolution of radio and more:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.