Leo Rayhill: Long-time lover of jazz

Albums lined the basement wall-to-wall when Joani Rayhill was growing up in Fayetteville. Her father, Leo Rayhill, owns 12,000 albums. It's safe to say he loves music. It's safer to say he loves jazz. It's certain that CDs save him a lot of space, she said.

Rayhill, 79, loves jazz enough that for years he has volunteered his time bringing the genre to listeners in Central New York.

He has hosted his own radio show, "Sounds of Jazz," for the past 45 years. The first show aired April 5, 1962. In that time, listeners rarely didn't hear his voice when they tuned in.

Listeners might have heard his son Brian, whom Rayhill let host the show a few times when Brian was in college at Le Moyne. Years later, they might have heard Brian's son, 10-year-old Alex, who, after reaching double-digit age, was awarded the privilege of announcing a few songs on the air.

The show airs every evening, Monday through Friday, at 6:05 on the classical music station WCNY-FM Syracuse.

Rayhill said his passion for jazz is the reason he has hosted the show for so long, especially since he also owned his own roofing and siding business until three years ago.

The show changed stations twice before moving to WCNY, which has been its home now for 35 years. When one of the previous stations changed its style of music, eliminating the jazz program, the station asked Rayhill to stay and host a rock 'n' roll program. He declined the offer.

"I don't have the love for it (rock 'n' roll)," he said.

Jazz has captivated Rayhill since his childhood. The owner of the bar behind his father's business in Utica introduced him to the genre and Rayhill spent his days at the bar's jukebox.

Right away, he was hooked.

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