Home Music Industry News Industry Great Hank Spann Has Died

Industry Great Hank Spann Has Died

This has been SUCH a year of loss for the industry and I’m sorry to report that industry vet has passed.  I was shocked to discover Hank worked in Buffalo with all the other radio greats at WUFO decades ago. He was truly one of the most down to earth people I had ever met in the industry and I’ve been on a couple of panels with him at various industry conferences. Hank, who has been ill for a while, started as a dj and also had an illustrious career in records. Remember these sheets from the radio stations in the 60s and 70s when DJs were stars? Retail worked with radio and put these lists in the record stores with the station’s top songs.  One of my greatest childhood memories as a music lover was my mother and father used to take me on separate trips to Audrey’s and Dells to buy 5 and get 1 free whenever I asked and WBLK had this sheet with a promotion called the Blk Pick of the Week.  I found this sheet on eBay with Hank’s pic, someone is selling it. In addition, hear Hank open his show on WWRL hererfocus.org. Looking at this sheet makes it so hard for me to believe how homogenized urban radio has become thanks to the corporations and how the craft has been so watered down and disrespected. These guys were truly the last greats.

CEO of RF Focus, Radio and Music Industry Veteran. Radio DJ, Programmer, Musician and Voice Talent. Graduated from Performing Arts in Buffalo, N.Y. and worked at the legendary KKBT (92.3 The Beat) during its nationwide heyday in the early 90s. Also worked for Stevie Wonder at KJLH.

48 COMMENTS

  1. This is truly sad news.

    Hank was one of my childhood heroes during his days on WWRL.

    That station had some of America’s best air talent and was simply incredible.

    How I’d love to hear him “go back in time you scratchy old record”.

    There was only one Soul Server.

    Alan Furst
    Round Rock Tx

  2. I used to buy mr records off of this sheet when I was pre-teen in Brooklyn. NY.
    Bls was about to go online after RL had set the stage.

    THE DJ’s MATTERED.

  3. I remember interning at WWRL when Hank was on the air. There was such GREAT talent at that radio station! He will be missed…I can remeber his famous sayin “I’m In The Wind New York, I got to Go To Work!”

  4. A true lengend and a true friend !!!! I will miss Hank Spann we have traveled many roads together, but as he always said on the air ” Put your foot on the rock, don’t stop” I love you my friend, may you now rest in peace !!!!!

  5. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  6. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  7. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  8. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  9. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  10. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  11. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  12. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  13. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  14. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  15. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  16. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  17. I am truly sadden by the passing of my friend Hank Spann. I had the pleasure of hiring Hank at WGIV in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1968. He moved on to greater successes, landing at WWRL in New York where he made a name for himself. Hank was always a gentleman, and one of the true genuine professionals in our business.

    Bless you my brother.

    Roland Bynum

  18. Hank was VERY instrumental to introducing “The Nighthawk” (ME) to New Orleans…I consider this man one of a few to help make Brian Wallace, “Brian Wallace””, in this industry…I’ve had many to “mold” me in my time in radio, but none more than Hank Spann….THANK YOU, my big Bro, for schoolin me how to play “the game”, and how to share “the game’ to my younger “bruhs” in da game…to Tony, stay up, i gotcha back, just as you dad had mine!

  19. Another one our true legends gone but,never to be forgotten.
    You’ll find the name “Hank Spann” in the Book of Legendary
    Broadcasters and remembered for his contribution to the Record
    Industry. God Bless the spirit of Hank Spann.

    jay butler

  20. I had the pleasure of working for Hank Spann as a jock in New Orleans @ WBOK, What a talented creative programmer he was . I learned so much from him. I spoke 2 him about five years ago as he was interested in re-entering the radio industry…Hank Spann R.I.P. Enjoy your new home in SOUL HEAVEN.

    Bob Frost

  21. I REMEMBER LISTENING TO HANK SPANN IN THE LATES 60S ON WWRL HE WOULD COME ON AT 6pm-10pm HE WOULD SAY ‘PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE ROCK, PAT IT AND DONT YOU DARE STOP” HE HAD SOME SAYINGS ‘LIKE A CRIPPLED CRAB WITHOUT A CRUTCH YOU KNOW IM TOO MUCH” AND “TOO HOT TO HANDLE LIKE A DRUGSTORE CANDLE” AND HIS FAMOUS WAS I’M IN THE WIND NY LATER…. I LOVED HIM! R.I.P. HANK

  22. For those of us who lived here in New York City and listened to WWRL-AM 1600, in
    the late 60’s and 70’s, we remember Hank Spann as “The Soul Server”. He had a style and delivery like NO other.

    Hank was also known for his memorable lines–whether BACK-ANNOUNCING a song/artist: “…Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie–The Five with “Lookin
    Through The Windows…” or “…That was Smokey and those money makin’ Miracles with the Tears of a Clown right here on Super 16 in New York!…”

    Hank always told you the names of the folks the singing groups (“Red, Eugene, Squirrel and Marshall–The Chi-Lites”)

    Sometimes Hank would be feelin a particular record record so much, he’d open the mic up and sing along with the song for a bit–adding his own ad-libs–like in James Brown’s “I Got a Bag of My Own”…he’d sing with Brown:

    “I got a bag of my own…I got a bag of my own…good God me and you Brown…I,I,I…”

    Hank also had his unique way to bringing the exclamation point home on one of those smooth soul ballads from the 70’s…think Black Ivory’s “You & I”…with about 15 seconds to go…right at the fade/tag…Spann would interject one of his patented “hey nowwww’s” in his deep and sloooowed down baritone voice LOL

    Hank would always tell you to, “Put your foot on the rock, pat it and dontcha DARE stop!”

    Or maybe after playing “I Got So Much Trouble” by Joe Quarterman and Free Soul, he’d say,”that jam was funkier than a crippled crab without a crutch…have MERCY
    now!”

    For years, his signoff in the late afternoon was legendary. It went a little something like this:

    “Well New York, that’s it for now…I gotta take two steps to the rear and get out of here. I’m making way for the man on my right, Gary Byrd…so I’m in the
    wind New York…LATER!”

    Said with all of the enthusiasm and energy you would imagine…

    Last year I stumbled across a trade radio website that mentioned Hank was very ill. I did leave a message for him and his family out in Northern California
    hoping, praying, wishing…

    Looking back, around 1990 or so, when Hank was working at Billboard Magazine, I called him one afternoon and shared my memories with him over the phone. He was
    most grateful and humbled that someone like me—a fan—who was in his mid teens during his hey day, would call and praise him.

    Until the day I die, I’ll ALWAYS remember Hank Spann and the hundreds and hundreds of hours of REAL RADIO
    PERSONALITY he gave me and a ton of others here in the Metropolitan New York City area….

    Rest in peace always/descanse en paz siempre

    :-(….
    Vincent-51 years old

  23. Ya knowwwww? LOL

    I’ll never forget his closing either!

    @ ShaRall:
    October 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm
    “I’m going to take two steps to the rear and I’m otta here. I’m in the wind New York, later.”

  24. i heard the news this morning that hank spann passed he was a inspiration to me as i listen to him .i remember when he would play a james brown record “let a man come in and do the popcorn” he would ad-lib “maestro what should the server do?”(jb:”im gonna do my thing”)or the jackson five “mama’s pearl” ad-libbing “ha-ha”,”come on with your little come on”,”have mercy nowww” he will be very missed

  25. god bless hank spann i remember being a kid and just setting there glued to that radio and him saying blowing your mind with the baddis jams i can find thank hank and god bless

  26. Hank was my influence to go into Radio I listened and emulated him until one day a PD said “You have to establish your own sound”. Well I eventually did but it was the rhythmic soul and cadence of Hank Spann that still defines the undertones I’ve what I do today. Thanks Hank for getting me started, my inspiration from a Transistor Radio to now the Internet I will continue with what his legacy left us and that’s “Personality Radio”! RIP Mike “T”

  27. I REMEMBER ” THE SOUL SERVER” AT THE BIG “RL” WITH LOVE. HANK AND THE CHIEF ROCKER FRANKIE CROCKER INSPIRED ME TO PURSUE A CAREER IN BROADCASTING. WHEN I WAS GROWING UP I ALWAYS SAID THAT I WANTED TO BE JUST LIKE THOSE TWO CATS WHO EPITOMIZED “KOOL”. HANK WAS VERY SUAVE AND I JUST WANTED TO EMULATE THAT AURA THAT HE PROJECTED THROUGH THE MICROPHONE. IN AN ERA WHERE YOU ACTUALLY FELT AS THOUGH YOU KNEW THE AIR PERSONALITY, HANK WAS MY BEST FRIEND AND HE WILL BE SORELY MISSED. MY CONDOLENCES TO HIS FAMILY. I HAD THE PLEASURE OF ATTENDING HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE IN NEW YORK CITY AT THE ABYSINNIAN BAPTIST CHURCH AND MINGLING WITH OLD FREINDS SUCH AS GARY BYRD,BOB LAW,VAUGHN HARPER,BUGSY,G.KEITH ALEXANDER AND HIS SON TONY. WHAT A GREAT TIME WE ALL HAD REMEMBERING A TRUE LEGEND AND SHARING MEMORIES. I REMEMBER HIS CLOSING LINE, THIS IS GONNA DO IT FOR THIS EDITION OF THE SERVERS MISSION, UNTIL I RETURN TO BURN TOMORROW AFTERNOON AT 2PM.BROTHER MAN,SISTER TOO IF YOU CAN. I’VE GOTTA TAKE TWO STEPS TO THE REAR AND GET OUTTA HERE. BE NICE TO SOMEBODY SHORT ,CAUSE YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHEN SOMEONE SHORT MIGHT HAVE TO BE NICE TO YOU. I’M IN THE WIND NEW YORK,LATER,FOLLOWED BY HIS CLOSING THEME “FOLLOW THE WIND”. GOD BLESS HANK AND RIP CAUSE THERE WILL NEVER,EVER BE ANOTHER.

  28. Hank was one of our greatest inspirations in NYC. Kurtis Blow and myself used to listen to his every word and delivery. We emulated him because he just had IT. HIP-HOPPERS NEED TO LEARN WHO THIS MAN WAS. He was one of the greats. WWRL say it and win.

  29. I Will miss Mr Hank Spann he was one of the best in the business anywhere I can say that because I have traveled the country and the world. Mr. Spann had a sign off that I Still remember to this day. It went like this “That’s gonna do it for this edition of the servers mission until I return to burn tomorrow until then brother man sister too if you can be nice to somebody short because you never know when somebody short might have to be nice to you right now I have to take two steps to the rear and get out of here Im in the wind New York later” RIP HANK WE LOVE YOU !

  30. I remember Hank on WWRL in the seventies:
    “It’s 2 o’clock(Jingle, Hank Spann), then his first record was always Abe Tillman and the Detroit Emeralds.
    Rest in peace Hank, we’ll always remember you.

  31. Does anyone remember how he signed on: “it’s six fifty-nine in your mind with Hank Spanno”.I had the priveledge of meeting him a few times when I was a teenager, and I will never forget him, what a gentlemen. Rest In Peace Hank.

    Linda from Brooklyn

  32. i remember my mother use to listen to wwrl back in the 70’s hearing hank spann and the other d.j.’s playing the funky soul music and hearing mr.putting the flow down
    two steps to the rear.that was a soulful era.one of the reasons i started deejaying and why i still do.if anybody have any footage of hank spann and wwrl please contact me also if anybody have any dusty records.soul,jazz. ect
    my e-mail is [email protected]

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