Hall of fame gives Rayman Lifetime Achievement Award

Ray Enright -- better known as "The Rayman" on KOOL 101.7 FM -- got to induct the Titans, the band that first introduced him to live rock music, into the Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame last year.

Ray Enright -- better known as "The Rayman" on KOOL 101.7 FM -- got to induct the Titans, the band that first introduced him to live rock music, into the Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame last year.

"I thought, man, what could top this?" he said during an interview at the studios last week.

Answer: a lifetime achievement award of his own from the same organization the next year. It was a surprise delivery May 6, presented by his friends Gary and Ardis Williams from the band Sh-boom while Enright was on stage giving awards to other people.

He knew he had been nominated, but sometimes those awards are given posthumously, he said. "It can take 10 years or 15 years," he said. "You don't know."

But in a matter of seconds, his friends were winking at him and standing by a microphone.


"What got me was, everybody knew," he said. The secret had been successfully kept from him for months by numerous friends. He said there are pictures of him with his head in his hands, because he was so moved and surprised.

"I stayed up the whole night, man," he said. "I couldn't sleep."

The Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame actually represents more than just Minnesota, also including Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. It has been around since around the advent of rock music, Enright said, and its purpose is preserving the memories of great music.

That's something Enright has done both personally and professionally.

His friendly but shy demeanor belies the disc jockey image, one he also held as a child, when he idolized the voices on the radio that befriended him after his father passed away when he was just 7 years old.

His love for rock came first. One night, looking up to heaven out his bedroom window and thinking about his father, a professional singer, Enright heard music. He found the Titans playing at a friend's house and was hooked.

Hearing his friends on the radio thrilled him, and they let him carry equipment in for gigs that would normally be closed to such a young boy.

The interest continued as Enright found work as a traveling salesman for 21 years. The job gave him time off, which he spent hearing live music and getting to know musicians. Those personal relationships allowed him to share "little juicy tidbits here and there" with listeners when he came to be on radio himself.


"I do a lot of research, not only on local bands but all the bands," he said.

That may be understating things. Ron Stone, general manager of Clear Channel Radio's Duluth stations, says: "The depth of his knowledge is just incredible."

In fact, Stone says Enright could go to work in any radio market in America, a rare kind of talent in a market the size of Duluth.

"The only thing that I hope to be able to say years from now is that Ray and I are still working together," Stone said.

That success was not always a given. In fact, when Enright got his start in radio about a decade ago, before Clear Channel owned the station, he was hired for an hour on a single night, working in local talk radio. He got the job, and for a few years talk radio is what he continued to do, working with local hosts including Lew Latto, Brad Bennett and Duke Skorich.

In the midst of that work, he heard the KOOL 101 oldies sound and decided to help out part-time, and eventually he moved to that work full-time.

He would play an occasional song from an old local band, and people seemed to like it. He also came up with an idea for a new show: the "Friday Night Forgotten 45s Show."

It would feature records that had somehow been unjustly forgotten in the passing of time, including some local bands.


He had to convince management, but they let him do it.

"People just flipped out," Enright said. "They really like it, you know?"

Things have only gotten better for Enright as Clear Channel has put more resources in the station, and he said management is terrific and supportive.

The feeling is apparently mutual. "I enjoy listening to Ray as much as I enjoy listening to oldies on the radio station," Stone said.

Regarding the award, Stone said, "We couldn't be prouder of Ray. He's a true legend with oldies music."

Now that status is official.

Enright is humble about it, though. He says it's the Lord working in his life.

And he deflects the praise another direction, too.


"I've always said that I've got the greatest fans in the world," he said. "... The fans did the work. The listeners did the work. I didn't do anything."

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