Gerald Poulsen, a.k.a. WAMU bluegrass host Jerry Gray, dies at 78

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Jerry Gray / Gerald PoulsenGerald Poulsen, known in radio as bluegrass music host Jerry Gray, died Feb. 2 in Roanoke, Va. He was 78.

His son Mark Poulsen told the Washington Post that his father had health complications from a heart transplant that he received after suffering a heart attack on the air in 1989.

Poulsen started in 1971 at Washington’s WAMU-FM  at American University and for 30 years hosted The Jerry Gray Show on Saturday afternoons, featuring traditional country music, featuring stars such as Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers and Patsy Montana.

In 1978, he began co-hosting Bluegrass Country, a weekday drivetime show and later became its host. “Mr. Poulsen carried each day’s selections to the studio with him, drawn from his personal collection of more than 12,000 records,” the Post noted.

In 2001, when the station converted most of its broadcast hours to news and public affairs, Poulsen retired to Hardy, Va.

He was born Oct. 9, 1933, in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1951 from McKinley Technical High School, served in the Army, attended American University and studied at a local private radio training academy.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Kay Gregory Poulsen of Hardy; children Donna Catron, Jon Poulsen, Lora Whitehurst, Mark Poulsen and Kathryn Dorshimer; his mother, Vesta Poulsen; one sister; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandson.  

Photo of Jerry Gray courtesy of WAMU-FM.
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