(PRWEB) June 07, 2017
Tune in this Friday at 2 p.m. for Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy on KABF 88.3 FM. This week’s guest is John Cain, a man who experienced the south go through Jim Crow to desegregation and a familiar radio voice for half a century in central Arkansas. He is also known for his efforts to preserve African-American culture in Arkansas.
Cain is program director of community radio station KABF-FM 88.3 and host of KUAR's 52nd Street Jazz for more than three decades. He has been on the air in some capacity for "51 years and counting."
Cain got his start in the early 1960s working as an engineer and overnight disc jockey at Little Rock R&B station KALO-AM 1250. It was there that Cain developed his program niche. Cain said, “I featured material that you don’t hear normally. It was overnight radio that really gave me the opportunity to become a preservationist of sorts, a musicologist, a mixologist or whatever you want to call it."
Cain lived in Alabama and Georgia and worked in community theater and jazz preservation. He returned to Little Rock in 1984, about a month before KABF went on the air. He volunteered with the station, launching and hosting programs for several years, until the program director position opened up.
In 1986, Cain began hosting 52nd Street Jazz on KUAR. That began more than three decades of broadcasting on both stations. Initially he was hosting the program several nights a week. After being hired full-time at KABF, he scaled 52nd Street Jazz back to Sunday evenings, which he continues today.
Another passion for Cain is the preservation of African-American landmarks. After his return to Little Rock, and learning the once grand Mosaic Templars building was at risk of being torn down, he began reaching out to others and began the long process of trying to preserve the building which was built in 1913.
"I started by contacting Bill Worthen and the Historic Preservation Alliance. They advised me on how to start this campaign, so I worked about four years alone just trying to organize the society to save the building," Cain says.
The four-story building was purchased by the city in 1993, but sat abandoned for another decade before going to the Department of Arkansas Heritage. During the $8.6 million renovation the building caught fire and was completely destroyed. The new building, a complete replication of the previous burned building, was completed in 2006. Today it is known as the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the state's African-American history.
"The fire was the catalyst that brought the whole thing to reality. Without that, we still would have been struggling for many years. After the fire, 24 hours later we were the in Capitol Rotunda talking to the governor and all those preservationists about how to change a restoration project into a new building project," Cain said.