Monday, August 31, 2015

Eliot Keller, co-founder and General Manager of Z102.9, KZIA, died on December 28th, 2009 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

In 1974, Eliot Keller unknowingly started what became one of the most prolific local broadcasting careers the radio industry has seen.  With partner Rob Norton, Eliot continually raised the bar as to what it meant to serve the public interest from a little room with a handful of records and a microphone.

If you were lucky enough to know or work with him, the public service side of Eliot Keller was always inspirational.  He was a powerful voice in the radio industry and in the local community he worked so hard to serve.

This public service, important as it is, was never the reason you looked forward to spending time with Eliot.  He always had a knack of making you feel that none of the work was as important as you are.

Knowing that the radio broadcasting industry and our community as a whole has lost a natural leader, we will miss the man.  With one of the most infectious smiles and a giggle that was all Eliot, his warmth as a father, husband, partner, manager and friend will be missed most of all.


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Thank You, Eliot!
Last Post 12-29-2009 08:02 by Bill Summers. 0 Replies.
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Bill Summers

12-29-2009 08:02 DeleteDelete EditEdit QuoteQuote ReplyReply  
I heard today of the passing of our friend and former "boss." Despite my long-winded posting here, words genuinely fail to describe the sadness and regret I feel that this Iowa broadcasting innovator and business giant had to depart at such a young age and after such a long and difficult illness. So many great memories of Eliot from the golden age of KRNA...far too many to share in this little space. The stories are literally countless, as are the laughs & misadventures.

I met Eliot in '82 or '83, when I started as a part-time weekend overnight jock at 93.9 "Ten in a Row/Decade of Rock" KRNA . I was still a wide-eyed undergrad at Iowa and right above sweeping out the breakroom, my on-air shift was absolutely low man on the totem pole. Little did I know that it would lead to be the greatest time of my life, working at an unbelievable radio station during an unforgetable era. Before I knew it, twelve years flew by with so many truly fantastic co-workers whom I am sure will all think fondly of that place that Eliot helped create. I was learning something new almost daily about business, radio, or life. I learned more important lessons in that office that you would never learn in a classrom. By the time I left, I had worked on-air as well as in production, sales, promotions, management, et al. It was fantastic and I thank you, Eliot, for that chance and for your influence on everything I have been able to built upon since then.

It occurs to me in retrospect that it was fortunate for Rob and Eliot to take time and recognize their 25th anniversary in business together several years back. I am glad I attended the festivities that evening and that so many former staff and associates were able to join Eliot and formally celebrate his success while he was in the prime of life.

I last saw Eliot this past summer, and it was difficult for me. I had heard he was declining in health and I made it a point to stop and visit him at his home when I was passing through Iowa City. We had a good visit, reminiscing but also talking about the future. Eliot wanted to hear about my life & career since KRNA. He was very proud of what Rob and everyone was doing at KZIA and also of his family, including his grandson in Indianapolis.

As I left, I was struck with sadness knowing that this would be the last time I saw my friend in this world, my former boss whom I still respected so much. I was also angry that this perpetually vibrant and energeic human being was slowly being reduced to a fragile shell of a man, a mind & soul entraped in a failing body. This was an unfair fate for a guy who was such a risk-taker and trail-blazer in his day. He deserved much better as a final chapter to his life, along with many more pages before that last one was written.

My thoughts tonight are with Norton and all of the staff of KZIA, especially Ric, Scott, Mo, Kelli, Pam and anyone I'm omitting who is still there from the old days. You've lost a great friend and leader.

I also hope that Sandy, Nicole and the rest of Eliot's immediate family know that you are in my family's prayers and thoughts right now.

The news story on his death states that Eliot's wishes were for no memorial or funeral service. I'm sorry to hear that, because I think many of us would enjoy getting together to take the time to raise a glass to Eliot's memory and properly recognize him and remember good times spent together.

Goodbye, Eliot, and thank you.

Bill Summers

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