the Music Bio --
Though Ray Hoffman has been in commercial radio for four decades, his other career involvement reaches back even farther.
His involvement in music -which is centered on lyric writing and singing-- stems from a lifelong love for jazz, classic film music, and the American Popular Song. Five of Ray's lyrics have been recorded by the jazz vocalist Marlene VerPlanck: “Dance With Me, Outside” and “Love Looks Good on You,” each with music by the renowned Pete Rugolo…and three with music by Marlene’s late husband, Billy VerPlanck, “Sing Me To Sleep,” "Around About Half Past Nine," and "Quietly."
Ray also wrote the first English-language lyrics to three of the most classic themes in Italian cinema (from the films La Dolce Vita, Fellini’s Amarcord, and Marriage, Italian Style), which were recorded by singer Anita Gravine. That CD, "Lights, Camera, Passion...Jazz and the Italian Cinema" (on Soulnote Records) was chosen by The Boston Globe as one of the top ten jazz recordings of 1999.
The lyric writing, in turn, led back to singing. A 1998 “demo” recording of four songs written with Pete Rugolo went so well that Ray, Pete, and the legendary West Coast saxophonist Bill Perkins –whose solos with Stan Kenton from the ‘50s were the models that Ray had tried to copy as a young would-be tenor player— decided to expand the demo into a full-blown recording. Over the next couple of years, Ray’s vacations in California became recording session trips. The core band (Bill Perkins, Larry Koonse, Joe LaBarbera, and Tom Warrington) was augmented at various times by such prominent players as pianist Lou Levy (longtime accompanist to Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald), pianist and cellist Fred Katz (of the classic Chico Hamilton Quintet), and trumpeters Buddy Childers and Mark Lewis.
There is a second CD in preparation as well, featuring a pair of ten-piece ensembles: a Los Angeles band featuring alto saxophonist Gary Foster as well as Larry Koonse, Tom Warrington, and pianists Milcho Leviev and Rich Eames...and a New York band featuring Scott Robinson on baritone sax, plus french horn artist Adam Unsworth, guitarist James Chirillo, bassist Boots Maleson, and cellist Alisa Horn.
In the spirit of the Leonard Feather Encyclopedia of Jazz that he spent hours pouring over as a young boy in Pittsburgh, Ray’s biggest influences and biggest heroes are the great arrangers of jazz…in particular Bill Holman, Bill Finegan, Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Giuffre, Billy May, Johnny Mandel, Sy Oliver, Gil Evans, and Pete Rugolo …plus the great film composers David Raksin and Hugo Friedhofer, and the Welsh-born symphonist Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Keep an eye on rayhoffman.com for further developments.
When Ray Hoffman began broadcasting the play-by-play of the financial markets, the Dow was at a lowly 775. Today, more than three decades (and several thousand points) later, Ray's breezy-yet-insightful reports are among the standards by which broadcast business and financial news is judged.
Tens of millions of listeners (in their cars, kitchens, and showers) have heard Ray’s news-and-analysis features on New York's WCBS Newsradio 880 (as well as such other notable outlets as WABC/New York, WBZ/Boston, WJR/Detroit, WLS/ Chicago, WBAP/Fort Worth-Dallas, KTRH/Houston, KABC/Los Angeles, and KFWB/Los Angeles).
Representing BusinessWeek on air for twenty-one years, Ray was the morning business news voice on the ABC Radio Networks from 1995 to 2006. Ray also represented The Wall Street Journal, on air, for eleven years. His daily WCBS CEO Radio feature was recognized by the New York Press Club as best radio business news report in both 2012 and 2015.
A Penn State grad, born and raised in Pittsburgh, Ray broke into broadcasting in the '70s in State College, Pennsylvania and Youngstown, Ohio. His first major market job was a four-year stay in Cleveland, during the period when station WERE was earning big ratings with an all-news format. Coming to New York in 1981, Ray helped establish The Wall Street Journal's broadcast service.
After five years at the Journal, Ray moved to BusinessWeek, where the magazine's legendary editor Steve Shepard dubbed him The Voice of BusinessWeek. For the next two decades, Ray represented the magazine on major radio stations from coast to coast. He also wrote occasional articles for the magazine.
In January 1995, BusinessWeek began a long joint venture with the ABC Radio Networks. For the next 12 years, Ray was the morning voice of business and market information on more than 150 ABC affiliate stations, including WABC and WOR in New York. Ray's voice was a regular presence, also, on Boston's WBZ as well as the Paul W. Smith Show on WJR in Detroit, WBAP in Fort Worth-Dallas, and KABC in Los Angeles.
The WSJ wanted him back and WCBS wanted him back, and in 2006 Ray started a second, six-year, stint broadcasting for the Journal on WCBS as well as KTRH in Houston and WLS in Chicago. The daily CEO Radio feature began in 2007, and continues today, four times each weekday on WCBS Newsradio 880.