*A fighter is not just the person who combats with their fists or feet, or even displays proficiency with weapons. It’s someone who works tirelessly to achieve their goals. It’s a person who stands firmly behind convictions, beliefs, even gut-feelings, and won’t be deterred regardless of the circumstances.
Banks fought to have hip-hop played on morning radio in Chicago, he fought for universal literacy and social unity. And all while becoming one of the foremost broadcast personalities in America he fought diabetes.
Sadly, Banks passed away from complications of the disease on April 11. He was 57.
Legendary broadcaster Tom Joyner issued this statement about Banks passing:
“Doug Banks wasn’t just my Turntable Brother, he was my other brother! We did this back when urban radio made itself the best thing on the air – and we made each other better. Chicago, radio and afternoons will never be the same. I miss him and what we shared together.”
Ballyhoo Public Relations founder Octavia Bostick tells EURweb that Banks’ voice “is one that has been on the radio so long you just thought it would always be here to entertain us, especially when he came back earlier this year.”
Banks’ longevity was a constant source of inspiration in a space where change is ever present and a testament to how loved he was, Bostick says.
READ RELATED STORY: Longtime Radio Personality Doug Banks Dies at 57
During his more than 5 decades of life Banks impacted countless persons who heard his award-winning voice through stereo speakers. He also affected those lucky enough to speak with him directly. Don Black, Program Director and on-air personality at Lansing, MI’s WQHH 96.5FM, experienced both. “Growing up in Chicago I had the pleasure of listening to him, one of the funniest guys I ever heard,” Black tells EURweb. “But he was also one of the realest guys I ever heard too. When I decided to get into the [radio] business, I knew I wanted to be just like him.”
As a high school student Doug Banks proved himself capable of drawing and growing an audience. The Philadelphia-born, Detroit-raised jockey went from school radio to local station WDRQ, to KDAY in Los Angeles.
Banks’ first morning show with KLAV-AM in Las Vegas would eventually lead him to the very popular WBMX morning show in Chicago. This opened the door to his nationally syndicated The Doug Banks Morning Show with co-host DeDe McGuire.
Relaunched as The Ride with Doug and DeDe, their innovative syndicated morning and afternoon drive reached a dedicated audience of millions. Banks found the show a new flagship home with American Urban Radio Networks’ WVAZ (formally WBMX), rebranding it The Doug Banks Show.
One thing that remained consistent throughout Banks’ travels was using his voice to fight for issues of widespread significance. Sure, he regularly made people laugh, frequently brought smiles throughout the day all across the country, but he also spoke up when and where it mattered.
Black met Banks while interning at Chicago’s WGCI-FM in the early 90s, he says. “I got to see him every morning and ask questions, and he would happily answer or give advice. To this day, I try to keep a sense of being real to the listener because he did.”
A Living Legends Foundation honoree, Banks collaborated with Disney and the Boys & Girls Club of America to launch Doug Banks Literacy & Scholarship Initiative. A high school radio jock turned nationally renowned broadcaster, Banks never lost sight of the importance of education.
Black says Banks will be missed because “everybody felt like he was their friend. And he was.”
Bostick adds, “Doug Banks was always good for a laugh and his spirit will be sorely missed on the airwaves.”
Though diabetes claimed his life and silenced his living voice, the fighting spirit and inspiring vocal expression of Doug Banks will live on forever.