The Legacy of Ray Durkee
Broadcast Pioneers of Colorado
2015 Hall of Fame Inductee Video
Ray Durkee’s radio career began in his hometown of Aberdeen, SD in 1956 at KSDN. In 1958 he moved to KQDI in Bismarck, ND. In 1959 he traveled to the big city of Denver, CO where he worked at KOSI. In 1960 he moved to KTLN in Denver. He traveled to Phoenix to work for KTLN’s sister station KRIZ in 1961.
Ray came back to KTLN in 1962. Aside from his studio duties he flew the stations traffic airplane and reported rush hour traffic reports live on the air. In 1969 he moved to KLZ in Denver where he spent the next 3 years hosting Denver at Night on the Ray Durkee Show (Weekdays 8:00-11:00pm).
In 1972, Ray moved to Denver’s KHOW where he started Sunday at the Memories in 1973. Sunday at the Memories was a nostalgia oriented show Ray created featuring the music of the past, as well as news and sporting events, movies, popular radio DJs, old time radio shows, commercials, TV shows and just about anything from years gone by that would take a listener back in time. Ray was a great story teller and radio professional. He captured the imagination of his listeners who could relate to the stories he told about his life. The show created “Theater of the Mind” for its listeners and was a huge success. It aired on KHOW every Sunday between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Sunday at the Memories generated high ratings and rivaled the ratings of the Denver Broncos on KOA in a town known for its love of their football team.
Ray was convinced he was on to something, in 1976 he started recording a new 3 hour show to syndicate and sell to radio stations across the United States. He launched Sunday at the Memories nationally with a hand full of stations in the mid-west in 1976. Response to the show on a national scale was similar to the positive experience on the air in Denver. By the early 80s stations were airing the show from Washington to Maine to Florida to Arizona to Hawaii to Guam, and the Aramco Oil Company played the show for its American workers in Saudi Arabia.
Ray syndicated the show from his home studio for 15 years, it aired every Sunday on 100 radio stations simultaneously at the height of popularity. During those 15 years the show evolved and played on nearly 300 stations in total. In its earlier years Sunday at the Memories focused on music and events from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Over time Ray integrated more current historical events and music from the 70s and early 80s.
Ray retired from his weekly syndication in 1990. In 2009, Ray passed away at his home in Bismarck, ND. He left us with an amazing archive of 1,500+ hours that deserve to be preserved. The show and the memories live on with Sunday at the Memories Digital.
In 2015 the show returned to the air in Denver and has been playing every Sunday for an encore broadcast on EZ 1430 AM, also Ray was inducted to the Broadcast Pioneers of Colorado Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2016 we developed a music service for retirement communities using the archives. The show is currently available in over 3,000 retirement communities, assisted living communities, memory care centers and adult day care centers.
In 2018 the show returned to the air in North Dakota with an encore broadcast each Sunday on KZZJ 1450 AM in Rugby, hosted by Ray's grand daughter Darylanna Durkee. In 2019 the show began the encore broadcasts every Sunday on WNAU in New Albany, Mississippi and in 2020 the show began the encore broadcasts on KCOW in Alliance, Nebraska, which was also an original affiliate station in the '70s and '80s. In January, 2021 the format at EZ 1430 changed and they stopped airing the show and any music on the station.