Saturday, September 05, 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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Missing Man
Last Post 12-29-2009 18:01 by . 2 Replies.
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Glen Gardner

12-29-2009 01:14 EditEdit QuoteQuote ReplyReply  
My friend Eliot passed away today. Eliot Keller was so much more than just a friend. He was a teacher and a mentor, and I already miss him.

I met Eliot on a snowy March day in the mid 80s. I was a young man looking for a new adventure in a new place. Eliot was the general manager of KRNA in Iowa City looking for a guy to do news and co-anchor the morning show on this massive blow torch of a radio station.

I was doing the morning show at WPOE in Greenfield/Northhampton, Massachusetts at the time. I sent tapes and resumes (dating myself) to stations across the country. KRNA was one of the stations I solicited after seeing an ad in Radio and Records (dating myself again). I got the word that KRNA was interested and wanted me to fly out and interview.

I drove down to the airport in Hartford and hopped a flight to Chicago and then a small prop job into Cedar Rapids. As that small plane was bouncing around over the patchwork of abundance below, I remember thinking, “what the hell am I doing?”

I met Eliot at the Cedar Rapids Airport that day. Eliot asked me how the flight was. “Interesting,” I said. “Perhaps you should have taken the train,” He said. As I came to learn in later months and years, Eliot never missed an opportunity to push passenger rail service.

The job was offered and I accepted, but I had a couple of “opportunities” as Eliot liked to call them. Because my wife and I were relocating from Massachusetts to Iowa City I had no car and no home. Eliot and his partner Rob Norton took care of that. Eliot let me borrow his old phone company van and Rob let me crash at this place in Coralville. Generous of spirit is an understatement.

That was the start of a tremendous 13-year run at KRNA. Eliot always did it right. He taught me about “the spirit of afterwardness.” He explained one must be concerned with the consequences of one’s actions. It could be as simple as pushing in a chair after a meeting to make sure someone else doesn’t have to do it. To this day I still push in a chair after a meeting.

Eliot’s spirit of afterwardness has added significance now that he’s gone. I have talked about that concept often in my professional life. I have amended his credo and adopted it as my own. Quite simply, try to leave it better than you found it.

Eliot had a knack for that. He helped build a local radio company from the ground up while mentoring scores of broadcasters over the years. KRNA and KZIA that followed are special places with real people doing real radio. Concern for the community and service are required. I’m going to miss you tremendously old friend, but you left it better than you found it.

12-29-2009 13:27 EditEdit QuoteQuote ReplyReply  
I worked for Eliot for 15 years, beginning in January 1981. He immediately fostered my long held interest in radio and allowed me to thrive and grow within the industry we both held dear. Over that time, we both learned much, had a ton of fun, made good money, and grew KRNA into a community leader. Eliot taught all of his employees the value of hard work, dedication, and a sense of humor.

Many of the lessons Eliot taught are still used by us in our day to day personal and professional duties, which is the greatest tribute any of us could earn in our lifetimes. His positive outlook and approach to difficult situations will be his most lasting impression upon me.

It was a dream job come true in 1981. Without that first opportunity given to me by he and his partner Dave Hoehne, I wouldn't be where I am today. Through that experience I was able to meet and work with some wonderfully creative and unique individuals, many of whom I still call friends today.

To Sandy and Nicole, you have my best wishes at this most difficult time.

To Rob, you have lost a brother in arms. Life could not have given you a more suitable friend and partner. Now it is up to you to carry the torch.

12-29-2009 18:01 EditEdit QuoteQuote ReplyReply  
Thank you Eliot for the opportunity you gave me so many years ago.

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