KCHO host dies

Kay Grace

Kay Grace

Photo By Tom Angel

Public radio’s local voice of classical music commentary, the distinctive Kay Grace, died suddenly Dec. 14. She was 58.

Grace, recognized for her proper British accent, was responsible for KCHO’s on-air arts calendar and single-handedly programmed its local classical music shows.

Her favorite part of her job as classical music director, Grace told the News & Review in May 2004, was interviewing and profiling artists for Saturday Showcase, which she hosted.

She had been with KCHO for nearly 10 years, first as a volunteer and, beginning in 1998, as a staff member.

Jack Brown, general manager of Northstate Public Radio, said more than anyone else, Grace was the “voice of the station.”

Besides her expertise in the performing arts and classical music, Grace was valued for her tireless dedication to fund-raising for the nonprofit NPR affiliate. She also ran Northstate Public Radio Reading Service for the blind.

Grace told the News & Review last May that she loved being recognized by her voice, and listeners greeted her “like an old friend.”

Brown described her as a “very private person.”

“She didn’t let many people into her life very far,” he said.

More than a week after her death, the cause of which has yet to be officially released, station personnel, “are still in shock,” Brown said.

“This was completely unexpected and nobody can believe it. I still wait for the taxi to pull up in front of the station, with her inside it, ready to go to work.”

The station has been running a recorded message to let listeners know what has happened. Her last show aired Saturday, Dec. 10 and featured local gardener and frequent guest Maria Rock.

KCHO is affiliated with Chico State University, and on Dec. 16 the flag there was lowered in her honor.

Brown said memorial services will be held Jan. 17.