Radio pioneer Jess Cain gets Hall of Fame honors

Karen Goulart

For 34 years he was an intimate to faithful Boston-area radio listeners. Soon Jess Cain will belong to America. In November, the late, much-loved WHDH morning talk show host will be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.

Cain, who in February succumbed after a long fight with prostate cancer, was one of three posthumous inductees announced by the hall of fame on Wednesday.

The honor is bittersweet for Cain’s family.

“We are thrilled, but a little sad it didn’t happen while he was alive,” son Michael Cain of Weymouth said. “But we understand the hall of fame has its rules and procedures. ... Our family is very happy he’s in.”

Jess Cain, a former Hingham resident whose quick wit, lively song parodies and impressions entertained generations of listeners, was nominated several times in the hall of fame’s “pioneer” category.

He may have fallen short on votes, but he never felt bad about it, Michael Cain said.

“He was up against Jimmy Durante, Jean Shepherd – a lot of heavyweights,” Cain said. “Fact is, to be nominated with those people, he was thrilled.”

The inductions will take place during a live, one-hour national radio broadcast at 10 p.m. EST on Nov. 8.

Michael Cain said the last few months have been difficult for the family, but the Cains have been greatly moved by the hundreds of cards and letters that fans have sent them.

After a private service in February, the family intended to have a public memorial in June. However, the family decided it would be too much right now, Michael Cain said.

Instead, they have established a scholarship in Jess Cain’s name at Emerson College – one that will help a student studying radio, television or theater. In addition to having a long career in radio, Cain was an accomplished stage actor who performed on Broadway and television.

Anyone who makes a contribution to the scholarship fund will receive a CD compilation of Cain’s best on-air bits.

“Any donation at all, whatever donation they can make, they’ll receive a CD,” Michael Cain said. “So the true fans who remember him will have something to keep him in mind.”

And should they ever be in Chicago, his memory will be very much alive there, too.

For more information about the scholarship, send an e-mail to Michael Cain at Donations may be sent to the attention of Bob Ashton, Emerson College, 120 Boylston St., Boston 02116.

Karen Goulart may be reached at