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Frank Page; radio man brought Elvis to global audiences

Frank Page described Presley’s first Hayride performance in 2004.

Robert Ruiz/Shreveport Times

Frank Page described Presley’s first Hayride performance in 2004.

NEW YORK — The man who helped introduce Elvis Presley to worldwide audiences through the Louisiana Hayride, the state’s version of the heralded Grand Ole Opry country radio show has died. He was 87.

Veteran radio broadcaster Frank Page died Jan. 9 after suffering a respiratory infection while hospitalized in Shreveport, La.

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Mr. Page retired from KWKH in 2005 after 65 years of service. He was best known for introducing Presley on the radio show in 1954, but he was also credited with launching the careers of other country music stars, including James ‘‘Gentleman Jim’’ Reeves.

In 1947, he started at KWKH and became an announcer for the Louisiana Hayride two years later.

The Times in Shreveport said it was through one of his radio personas, ‘‘Brother Gatemouth,’’ that Mr. Page brought blues to a generation of middle-class youths. One of those listening was Robert Zimmerman, of Hibbing, Minn., now known as Bob Dylan. Several Dylan biographies credit Mr. Page with influencing the musician.

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