Foster the Future of WOSU: Ken Keller

Ken Keller

In Ken’s Words…

Listen to Ken Keller discuss the importance of classical music in his life and why he is working to ensure WOSU Public and Classical 101 continues its long and rich history.

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Ken Keller visited WOSU Public Media recently to record a “LifeStories” session to share his memories, values, and stories of his past. As a Neil Legacy Society donor, Ken has decided to remember WOSU in his estate.

WOSU supporter Ken Keller grew up in Toledo, Ohio and describes his childhood as “breathtakingly ordinary.” The truth is, his life has been anything but. His love for radio began when he was a child.

He remembers during a family outing in Toledo many years ago, his mother took him inside the WTOL television station building, where he curiously watched a man reading into a microphone inside a studio. He thought about how this man’s voice was reaching hundreds, thousands of ears, and instantly knew that’s what he wanted to do with his life.

Ken’s Early Years in Broadcasting

Ken went on to college at The Ohio State University, where he majored in English. He pledged Phi Delta Theta and a frat brother introduced him to student radio, which he joked, reached “two, possibly three listeners.”

With his radio talent blossoming, he left school to pursue a full-time job in broadcasting, where he reached considerably more than two or three listeners. He would go on to interview many personalities of the day, including Edgar Bergen, Phyllis Diller, George Shearing and The Four Freshmen.

Unfortunately, radio was a very volatile market, and Ken made his rounds among many of the local radio stations and even worked as an announcer for a local TV station. At one point, he held jobs at two stations simultaneously and worked split shifts on a regular basis.

In September 1960 at the ripe young age of 21, Ken married his college sweetheart and had two kids while working the erratic schedule the world of broadcasting demanded. Ken’s path also brought him to WOSU for a period of time, but eventually, the changing makeup of the broadcast industry in the 1960s compelled Ken to leave it and start a new career in advertising.

He started out as a copywriter, and then moved gradually up the ranks at a couple of different companies before he started TRIAD, Inc. in 1972 with his friends Lee Ault and Pat Reynolds. He retired in 2002 and his son, Dave, took over the business.

Ups and Downs of the Radio Business

Ken never forgot his six precious years in local radio. He loved it so much that his memoir, Monkey on a Turntable, focuses mainly on his years in broadcast in Columbus, Ohio. In the book, he recounts the ups and downs of the local radio world in the 1960s and his personal experience with it that followed its own ups and downs: “The pace was sometimes frantic, the money was never adequate, job security was a laugh. And I loved every minute of it.”

The title of Ken’s book comes from one of the memories he had in which his pet Capuchin monkey, “Peanuts,” jumped onto a turntable when he brought it to work, knocking the needle off of the record and into the air before it came back and landed exactly where it had left off, causing a brief, but tense, hiatus in the music broadcast. Ken has a lot of poignant stories. They come with a life well lived.

After appreciating classical music on WOSU for years, Ken decided to remember WOSU in his estate due in part to its commitment to classical music in our community. “You’re either exposed to it or you aren’t…and I think it is desperately important that young people be exposed to it…and I think WOSU has that mission.”

We certainly do have that mission at WOSU and Classical 101, and we thank Ken for his continued support of it.

By Colt Humbert, WOSU Intern

You Can Help Foster the Future of WOSU

Like Ken, do you want to help sustain classical music for generations to come on Classical 101? Join Ken in expressing your value of classical music through a charitable will, estate, or memorial gift.

For more information, contact Dana Viglietta at 614-292-2159 or dana.viglietta@wosu.org.