Joe Gracey was a seminal figure in the development of Austin’s eclectic music scene. Gracey, as he was affectionately known, was a music producer, writer and bass guitar player with his wife Kimmie Rhodes’ band. He began making his mark in Austin in the 1970s as a young radio disc jockey with a preternaturally deep voice and he took a new format, called progressive country music, and ran with it. He was one of the driving forces behind establishing Austin radio as being about Austin music. That was an old-fashioned notion, one left over from 1960s AM stations that depended as much on local and regional music as national hits.
KOKE-FM was the soundtrack for Austin in the early 1970s, and Gracey was a character on the air.
In 1978, a short, brutal battle with throat cancer left him without his imitable voice. Gracey remained on the scene, often scribbling comments in conversation. He married the wonderful Kimmie Rhodes; it seemes that though his corporeal voice was gone, his words in songs would not be suppressed. He was cancer-free until 2009. Then he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the esophagus in January 2011.
KOKE-FM has recently been resurrected and the station’s studios have been renamed the “Joe Gracey Memorial Broadcast Radio Studios.”