James Kern Kyser (June 18, 1905 – July 23, 1985), known as Kay Kyser, was an American bandleader and radio personality of the 1930s and 1940s.
James Kern Kyser was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of pharmacists Emily Royster (née Howell) and Paul Bynum Kyser. Journalist and newspaper editor Vermont C. Royster was his cousin. Kyser graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was also senior class president.
Owing to his popularity and enthusiasm as a cheerleader, he was invited by Hal Kemp to take over as bandleader when Kemp ventured north to further his career. He began taking clarinet lessons but was better as an entertaining announcer than a musician. He adopted the initial of his middle name as part of his stage name, for its alliterative effect.