Sunday, August 30, 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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Eliot Keller Saved My Career
Last Post 12-30-2009 14:29 by Simon Will. 0 Replies.
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Simon Will
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12-30-2009 14:29 QuoteQuote ReplyReply  
This is a slight reworking of a blog post I made earlier this week. If fits best here. ;)
In 1997, I made a conscious decision to leave radio broadcasting and pursue another career path. In my mind, what was once a highly-focused medium built to serve a local audience was becoming an assembly line of soulless radio stations and formats built to generate revenue at the cost of everything that had made it possible for them to take a swing at abject failure in the first place.

It was a few days after getting conveniently tossed from the employee roster at WMT-FM that I received a call from a guy named Rob Norton. He told me they were getting ready to take MAX 102.9 in “another direction”. I remember my interview consisting of a couple of beers at the Irish Democrat and talking generally about radio, theories about what good radio sounds like and the joys of farting. I liked Rob Norton immediately and loved every minute of this would-be “interview”.

I began my career with KRNA, Inc. shortly after that as work began internally to convert 102.9 from “Young Country” to a Top 40 called Z102.9. In the few short weeks that this work was underway, I met for the first time many people that I have now known long enough to call good friends. Eliot Keller is one of those people.

Since 1998, I watched Eliot Keller and Rob build a fortress cleverly concealed inside of a radio station. With a combination of basic broadcast principle, some trial and error and commitment to the people responsible for delivering the message, Rob and Eliot stand so far out in front of the joyless bean counters masquerading as broadcasters.

Watching and hearing of the way he managed ALS was classic Eliot to the very end. He was still attending company meetings as late as a few weeks ago. He wore this audacious bravery like a shirt. (With suspenders and a cell phone in the breast pocket, of course.) (I’m really gonna miss the suspenders.)

I grew up in Missouri with dreams of being a disc jockey on the radio. Oddly, the only two gigs that resembled the job as I had envisioned it were my first in Hannibal, Missouri and that which I continue to enjoy with KZIA. Eliot is one of the reasons I get to remember at 40 what being a kid with a dream felt like. I will never forget this. And I will certainly never forget Eliot Keller.

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