Family and friends gathered Saturday afternoon to celebrate a man who has been an icon in Salina, and Salina radio, for decades. The celebration was for Ken Jennison and his 95th birthday.
Ken Jennison has worked at KSAL Radio almost the entire time the station has been on the air. KSAL went on the air in June of 1937 at studios in the former Salina Journal “castle building”, at the southwest corner of Seventh and Iron. It was in that building that Jennison started his professional radio career, in 1949, after 4 years at Kansas State University.
Jennison began working at KSAL Radio fresh out of college in 1949 as a copy writer, putting together daily “logbooks” that tracked each day’s broadcast from the moment the station went on the air at 6 a.m. to when it signed off with the “Star-Spangled Banner” at midnight. Around the clock 24-hour radio was in the future.
It wasn’t long before the station boss asked Jennison to find a way to brighten up the live commercial reads with some sound effects. Without any recordings to work with, Ken decided to use some baby chicks to help sell Purina chicken feed.
Thought he is not nearly as active now, 73-years-later Jennison still has an office at KSAL.
Ken Jennison is well known around the region for his efforts in helping with among others:
- Salina Downtown Inc.
- Smoky Hill Museum
- Salina Business Improvement Board
- The YMCA
- Salina Community Theatre
- Saline County 4-H
- Salina Symphony
- Kansas Wesleyan University
- Central Kansas Foundation
- Salina Area United Way
- Friends of The River
- Salina Boy Scouts
- First United Methodist Church
- Salina Arts and Humanities Commission
- Sunflower Lions Club
- Salina Rescue Mission
- Smoky Hill River Festival
Jennison spent his childhood days on a farm near Rush Center, Kansas, collecting arrowheads and Native American artifacts. He donated a bulk of the collection that once filled an entire room in his basement.
Jennison has a collection of every Smoky Hill River Festival Poster, which is on display at Presbyterian Manor in Salina.
Ken Jennison lives at Presbyterian Manor.