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KPBS Honors The Life And Legacy Of Ken Jones

Father of KPBS’ Dies at Age 90

— Ken Jones, the founder of KPBS, died Friday, October 23 at the age of 90. Jones was the brain behind KEBS-FM (Educational Broadcasting in San Diego) which later became KPBS. It was the first radio station licensed to a California State University campus.

In the mid 1950s, as a speech communications professor at San Diego State College (now SDSU), Jones began his work toward starting an educational radio station on campus. KEBS began broadcasting on September 12, 1960 from the Speech Arts Building. The original schedule was only two-and-a-half hours, five days a week. Nearly 50 years later, Jones’ creation has grown into a full public media service with news and entertainment programming on radio, TV and the Web.

“More than anybody else, Ken Jones brought public radio and television to San Diego,” said John Witherspoon, KPBS’ first General Manager. “Before NPR and PBS were created, Ken saw the potential of this kind of broadcasting, and saw the role that San Diego State could play. Working with San Diego’s education community and his colleagues at SDSU, he made it happen.”

“Even after Ken retired he was always a part of KPBS,” said Tom Karlo, KPBS General Manager. “We’re preparing to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of KPBS, and I am sad that Ken will miss this milestone. But I spoke with him often and he was extremely proud of what KPBS has become and the direction we’re taking. As the ‘Father of KPBS,’ Ken will always be a member of our team.”

Jones was born in April 1919 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a radio officer in the Army serving in World War II and he graduated from Northwestern and earned his Masters from Stanford University. He arrived in San Diego in 1948. Jones is survived by four sons, four grandchildren and his wife Marian. Jones’ family supports donations to KPBS in his name.

KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, Radio and Internet content that is educational as well as entertaining—and free of commercial interruption.

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