HI-LIFE II

LSHS Class of 1957 SPECIAL Edition
July 19, 2012 I have just received the following email from Karen Atkins, Ted’s wife … now his widow:
Dear Marilyn, Ted went to be with our Lord at 1:15 today. I left the hospital at 9am to go home to get some things. He wasn't responsive at that time. WE lost a great husband, step father, grandfather and friend. Please forward to his friends. Karen

If any of you would like to send your sympathies to Karen, her contact information is: Mrs. Ted J. (Karen) Atkins, 644 Newport Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15235 (412) 731-7989 Email: kruzers@msn.com I had a mix-up with Ted’s bio when we were putting the booklet of Classmates bios together for Mr. Brockman and when I had my computer crash I lost the copy he’d sent to me, so I called him and asked him to send it again. He told me he had “put together his obituary” that had all the information of his career in it and he’d send me that. What an amazing career … I had no idea! So, I decided to go ahead and send this info out to you now rather than wait a month to insert it in the August NL. I’m sure you will enjoy reading it as much as I did. I guess you might say “once an Angel, always an Angel” … I’m sure Fred Peery was there to welcome him home today.

If I get any further information from Karen, I will forward it on to you. I’m sure she knows by now that all our prayers go out to her during this great loss.

Marilyn (Prewitt) Williams

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THEODORE JAY (TED) ATKINS Bio Sketch (August 23, 1939 – July 19, 2012) Ted Atkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1939 and raised on a farm south of the city. He was a graduate of Lee’s Summit (MO) High School in 1957 and attended the University of Denver and Kansas University majoring in communications and journalism. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma social fraternity. At the age of 18, while in Denver, he worked as an all-night DJ at a local country music station while doing weekend news at another station. Atkins’ 40-plus years’ broadcast career included work as a radio DJ, Program Director, General Manager and station owner. His radio experience saw stints at multiple Denver stations, including Program Director of KIMN when, in 1967, it was recognized as National Radio Station of the Year by the Bill Gavin Report, an industry publication. He did on-air work in Kansas City at KCKN, KUDL and WHB and was Operations Manager of WOL, Washington, DC, during that station’s dominance. He joined RKO General in 1968 as Program Director of CKLW, Detroit and, later, KFRC, San Francisco, and KHJ, Los Angeles. During Atkins’ tenure at these 3 stations they were recognized as among the top 5 pop-music stations in America. In 1973, recruited by a Chicago head-hunter, Atkins became V.P. and General Manager of Hearst-owned WTAE-AM/FM in Pittsburgh (the AM is now Disney-owned and the FM, formerly WXKX then known as “96 Kicks” is now WKST and owned by Clear Channel. Both stations enjoyed great successes with the WTAE morning team of O’Brien and Garry (on-air, the duo referred to Atkins as “Capt. Show Biz”), Myron Cope on Sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers games and University of Pittsburgh football and basketball games. Atkins organized the Steelers and Pitt broadcast networks throughout the region. He was present when, for the first time, Myron Cope uttered the words, “…what the heck is Denardo weather?” thinking Denardo might be a city suburb as in, “Here’s the weather for Denardo and vicinity.” Joe Denardo, of course, is the former dean of Pittsburgh television meteorologists. Ted Atkins was instrumental in the hiring of longtime KDKA morning personality, Jack Bogut, in 1985, to take over WTAE’s morning show while O’Brien and Garry moved over to sister-station, WXKX-FM. The moves saw Bogut very successful for the first two years while O’Brien and Garry went on to great success over many years. Today Mr. Bogut is heard on WJAS-AM while both Larry O’Brien and John Garry are retired. Ted Atkins was formerly President of the Pittsburgh Radio-TV Club (now known as the Media Association of Pittsburgh) and was a two-term President of the Pittsburgh Radio Organization (PRO). In the early ‘80s he served on the Board of Directors of the Leukemia Society of Western Pennsylvania and produced the annual Leukemia Society radio fundraiser. Atkins was twice honored as national Program Director of the Year by industry peers and in 1971 was cochairman of the Bill Gavin National Radio Programming Conference in New Orleans. In 1978 he was recognized with the National General Manager of the Year award from the industry publication, “The Confidential Report.” In 1985, Atkins departed Pittsburgh to partner with four San Diego attorneys and a college friend to purchase FM stations in Sacramento and Modesto, California. Ted served as Managing General Partner and COO. After major ratings and revenue increases the stations were sold to Greater Media (a Cincinnati, OH, broadcast group) and he returned to Pittsburgh to pursue a local station acquisition that

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was never finalized. He became a broadcast consultant to various stations in the eastern U.S. through 1992 and then, tired of frequent travel, retired from the radio business. He remained active, working on and off with a data-processing firm in downtown Pittsburgh through 2007. Ted Atkins was married to Karen and leaves 2 stepchildren, Brian Philbin of Clearwater, FL, and Laura Debruyn of Harrison City, PA, as well as 6 step-grandchildren, Jordan, Hannah, Logan, Sydney, Olivia and Alana. Karen continues to work throughout the region as a pharmaceutical representative and both Atkins’ enjoyed relaxing at their community pool and in the garden of their suburban Pittsburgh condo in Newport Square. Ted served on the board of the condo association for 2 years. They traveled frequently with cruises and visits to Karen’s son in Florida. Ted recently completed his written memories of the times he spent with legendary music producer, Phil Spector (now in prison for murder in California) and often recalls his meetings with Elvis, the Beatles, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, among others. He is noted frequently as being the DJ in Denver during Thanksgiving that tossed live turkeys from a helicopter to a crowd below, never realizing that domestic turkeys can’t fly. The stunt was later recreated on the hit TV show, “WKRP.” Some of radio’s greatest promotions originated with Atkins and his associates during his Denver days. An annual WTAE / WXKX Radio reunion is a tradition during the holidays when the O’Briens are in town from Hilton Head, SC. The dinner includes former staff employees including O’Brien and Garry, Larry Richert (now morning host on KDKA-AM), Joe Denardo (former WTAE-TV weatherman), Bob Kopler (retired KDKA news anchor), Kevin Benson (now a WPXI-TV weatherman), Bill Hillgrove (the longtime radio voice of the Steelers and Pitt), Jim Quinn (nationally-heard morning talk show host on 104.7 FM and Sirius XM 158), Mark Roberts, Mike McGann, Don Berns, Susie Barbour, and Jay Mitchell, along with other news, sales and engineering personnel. Included recently: Winnie Bricker, known with O’Brien and Garry as “Intrepid Scout,” and Neal Spence, the traffic pilot they called “Sky Puppy.” All are friends from the “good old days.” Ted J. Atkins was proud of his radio heritage. His father was a pioneer in ham radio broadcasting in the 1920s. His early call letters were WOTJ. Theodore Jay was named for the TJ in the call letters.

1957

Ted & Karen at our 50th Reunion BBQ

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