Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Famer Clay ‘The Cooker’ Collins dies



One of Dayton’s well-known radio legends has died.

Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Famer Clay “The Cooker” Collins died Tuesday, July 26. He was 87.

Collins was known in the Dayton area for his jazz program, “Jazztistically Speaking,” appearing on several radio stations.

His wife, Debra, told his love for jazz music stemmed from his mother, who took him to shows in Chicago.

In 1968, Collins moved from Chicago to Dayton for a job as a radio news reporter on WAVI/WDAO. He then advanced to become the station’s program and community relations director.

“I remember him being on the radio on WDAO in the evening,” Debra said. “He always did jazz on Sunday and then he went to Clear Channel and did jazz on Sunday. I remember him playing jazz all the time.”

Throughout his career, Collins also appeared on WING, WCSU-FM, Clear Channel and WDPS-FM.

“I worked with Clay many years ago, first at WDAO then at WING,” added Bill Nance, co-manager of “He was an effective account executive but also an expert in jazz music, his specialty. Clay was also a pleasure to be around, always laughing, and always had a positive spirit.”

Collins was inducted into the Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007 and decided to retire from Clear Channel roughly two years later. He quickly found retirement a tad boring.

“Retirement was good for about a week. I’ve been working since I was a 12-year-old paperboy in Chicago. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I jumped at the chance to come back,” Collins previously told this news outlet in 2009.

Collins then worked at WDPS-FM, a radio station for Dayton Public Schools, for several years until he retired again in 2018.

“He’s been into music most of his life,” Debra said. “I think he just liked spinning the records.”

She added Collins knew how music made people feel and enjoyed playing songs that people could relate to.

Debra, who was married to Collins for 16 years, described him as funny, business-oriented and community-minded. In particular, he raised money for the sickle cell anemia fund at Drew Health Center and enjoyed attending the Roosevelt Memorial Track Meet. He was also a part of the Westmont Optimist Club.

Collins was preceded in death by a daughter. He is also survived by two children, five grandchildren and a host of great grandchildren.

Visitation and funeral details are not available at this time.

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