Frank Page, veteran regional broadcaster and a legend in the music world through his work at the Louisiana Hayride, died late Wednesday after a bout with a severe respiratory infection.
Page, 87, had been in the intensive care unit at WK Pierremont Health Center. Until the last few hours of his life he received visits from family, friends and caretakers.
Survivors include his widow, Helen, and a brother. Funeral details are pending.
Page, long considered the dean of Shreveport broadcasters, retired from KWKH Radio in 2005 after 65 years behind microphones.
It was during the 1950s when Page cemented his place in history by introducing Elvis Presley for the first time to a paying audience in 1954 at the Louisiana Hayride.
"Unbeknownst to me, it was what some since have called 'a seminal moment in the history of the world,'" Page told The Times several years ago in an interview. "He was a shy, well-mannered young man and just impressed the hell out of everybody."
Joey Kent, a local music and film producer and son of the late David Kent, a former owner of the Louisiana Hayride, worked with Page on projects concerning the radio show and noted that Page, an unusually modest man in broadcasting, downplayed his role in Elvis's early years.
"As Frank (would have been) the first to tell you, he fell into his most famous role, as the man who introduced Elvis to worldwide radio audiences quite by accident," Kent said. "Horace Logan generally introduced the well-known acts. It was through the fact that Elvis was an unknown that the job was pitched to Frank. Without much fanfare, he simply introduced Elvis by reporting what they knew, that he had a record out that had been getting some play on KWKH and other area radio stations and it had been getting a good response."
Page and the early Hayride provided an uncritical and forgiving environment that allowed Presley to mature as an artist and take his talent to a national level, Kent said.