Willis Clark Conover

Willis Clark Conover

American jazz producer and radio host on Voice of America radio
Date of Birth: 18.12.1920
Country: USA

  1. Willis Clark Conover: Biography
  2. Early Life and Interests
  3. Contrasting Paths
  4. A Musical Ambassador

Willis Clark Conover: Biography

Willis Clark Conover Jr. was an American jazz producer and radio host on Voice of America. He worked for over forty years at the radio station and became well-known for his night broadcasts during the Cold War, which gained significant popularity due to the growing interest in live jazz in Eastern European countries. Conover was also a producer of jazz concerts at the White House, the Newport Jazz Festival, and for film and television. He gained popularity among international nightclubs in Washington, D.C. by curating concert programs that attracted people of all races and nationalities.

Early Life and Interests

As a young boy, Conover developed a fascination with science fiction and even published a magazine about it called Science Fantasy Correspondent. This led him to correspond with writer Howard Lovecraft. Their letters, exchanged during the last years of Lovecraft's life, were later published in the book "Lovecraft at Last" (Carrolton-Clark, 1975; reprint 2004).

Contrasting Paths

Despite his father's insistence on joining the military and continuing the family tradition, Conover enrolled at Salisbury University in Maryland and eventually became a radio announcer at WTBO. He later joined Voice of America and ultimately became a jazz legend, primarily known for his one-hour program called "Voice of American Music." Conover's distinctive baritone voice made him stand out, leading many to consider him the most influential host on Voice of America. Although he was not widely recognized in the United States, even among jazz enthusiasts, his visits to Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union were always accompanied by a warm reception from his numerous fans.

A Musical Ambassador

During a trip to Moscow, a taxi driver recognized Conover's distinct voice. He had become a famous figure in the Soviet Union, where jazz was highly popular, and Voice of America served as the primary source of information about such music. Sadly, Conover passed away from lung cancer, a consequence of his 57-year smoking habit.