Wausau Area Mourns Death Of Broadcasting, Jazz Legend

Sid Kyler Was Band Leader, Graphic Artist At Wausau's First TV Station

A tribute to Sid Kyler on display at his memorial service. Photo: Glen Moberg/WPR News.

Central Wisconsin is mourning the loss of broadcasting pioneer and jazz legend Sid Kyler, who died earlier this month at age 87.

Kyler gained fame as a band leader, trumpet player, artist and graphic designer at Wausau’s first TV station. Even well into his 80s, Sid Kyler still had it, belting out trumpet licks before more than a thousand people at the jazz festival that bears his name.

“Jazz was not a thing that was studied in schools, or even encouraged at that time,” said clarinetist Louis Pradt, who played with Kyler for more than 60 years. “We taught ourselves. We listened to records.”

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Kyler played his first gig in 1947. A few years later, he was hired at WSAU-TV, where he designed the knight-in-shining-armor Sir Seven logo still used by the station today (now WSAW-TV, a CBS affiliate). He also worked with central Wisconsin’s first anchorman, Walter John Chilsen.

“It’s not very often that a man can take pen or oil and bring some humor to life with real expression,” said Chilsen. “He was a good friend of mine, and I’m going to miss him.“

Kyler loved to paint, and he loved Dixieland jazz.

“For over the 60 plus years, the music business has been an enjoyable experience and at least 90 percent of the gigs have been great,” he said during a Wisconsin Public Radio interview. “We have performed for weddings, funerals, birthdays, conventions, dedications, private parties, bar mitzvahs, country clubs, church services, beer gardens, anniversaries, dance clubs, fundraisers, jam sessions, Christmas parties, proms and Mardi Gras celebrations — as the beat goes on.“

His band will perform a tribute at next weekend’s Sid Kyler River Valley Jazz Festival in Wausau.

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