What’s that WHAS School Closing Music?


by Doug Proffitt


The other night after our 10:00pm news went off the air, I got a voicemail from a woman who wanted to know the name of the music that we still run  as the background to our listings of school closings.

The story behind this song has quite a history.  It’s connection to Kentuckiana is amazing.  People ask me and the station about it all the time.   Why?

The director of the WHAS newscasts at the time,  named Jerry Lloyd was faced with a blizzard in 1978.  At the time, we did not have computers running school closings automatically at the bottom of your screen.

Instead, we entered each one by hand, and the names scrolled from top to bottom of the screen, sometimes for 4-5 minutes at a time.  The anchor would disappear and the names would just roll and roll. 

The Blizzard of 1978, which by the way made the late Meterologist Chuck Taylor a household name, closed most every school and business around here. So that means,  Jerry Lloyd needed a song that would be long enough and last for the entire time those names were rolling on the screen !

He turned to a brand new title that had  just been released by Jazz musician Chuck Mangione the year before in 1976.

The song he wrote that was such a hit is titled, “Bellavia”.  Most people around here know it as the “school closing song”. They will often tell us, “it sounds like snow falling”. 

“Bellavia” was written by Mangione in 1976 to honor his mother, Nancy. Nancy’s maiden name is “Bellavia”.  She died in November of 2009.  The musician often said it was to honor “her beautiful way”. I asked Jerry, who retired from WHAS after 32 years and still lives in Louisville, why he picked it.  He said, “It just felt right.” 

So there you have it.  When Mangione has appeared in Louisville, he has made sure that he plays Bellavia, due to audience requests.

We hope you enjoy hearing it after all of these years.  It has identified WHAS TV with snow for decades now. It is a great tradition in this building. 

I personally love it, because when I was at home in 1978 during that blizzard watching WHAS as a kid, it always meant…NO SCHOOL !

Leave you memories or story about the WHAS11 school closing music below!