As a child in the 60’s growing up in Topeka, my morning began with AM Radio and Newscaster Hilton Hodges, my Mom listened to him every weekday in the kitchen while she cooked breakfast. It never crossed my mind I might end up on the radio behind a Microphone someday.
My Dad, Emory was in the Air Force. He met and married my Mom Evelyn Little in Topeka while he was stationed at Forbes Field. He was posted to England for 4 years. I was born there. We visited Topeka in between jaunts to other “posts:” Massachusetts, Hawaii, Texas and moved here permanently in 1963. I began my “Civilian life.” We had built a home earlier in 1959 in my Mom’s Highland Park Neighborhood, next door to my Grandparents CW and Allie Little and near my Mom’s brother and sister and their families: Dean & Mary Ellen Little and Don & Gladys Luce. I really loved living all the places I had been, but I was ready to stay in one place and go to the same school and have the same friends.
Growing up in Topeka was loads of fun. I was a Girl Scout and many of the girls in my Troop, now women, are my closest friends today. I was active in my church youth group, High School Pep Club, Girls Glee, Choir, Yearbook Staff, and Y-Teens. I loved performing in the annual High School Musicals. After High School, I attended Kansas State University and left with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and an FCC “DJ” license. My goal was to be a radio commercial copywriter. Which is part of my job now, but I was originally hired at KTPK-FM as a weekend News/Weather Announcer in April of ’76, while I was finishing up college in Manhattan.
Looking back on what’s turned into 37 years (I began as a Weekend DJ in April 1976) at KTPK-FM as it was known back in the beginning… it all begins to blur…but everyday has been unique and there’s never been a dull moment. I’ve seen a lot of co-workers come and go over the years and some even came back once or twice: Lee O’Day, Betty Lou Pardue and Rick Douglas.
Over the years, I’ve performed many jobs: All the various DJ Time Slots, Promotions, Public Service and Program Director for 13 years. Today, I’m the “Midday Chick” and also the Commercial Production Director. The Pinnacle of my Broadcasting career may have been 1984-1995 when I was half of “Marlena and Lynn in the Morning.” Lynn Higbee was my mentor. Lynn had a long, illustrious Radio career behind him. He was semi-retired but continued to do mornings with me. To this day, I have listeners call and tell me they were listening that morning in September of 1995 when I announced his unexpected passing.
I still live in my “Old Highland Park Neighborhood” with three dogs. All are adopted from various Pet Rescue Organizations. I have to two Shetland Sheepdogs and a Borzoi. You may see us at the Gage Park Bark Park, walking across the Lake Shawnee Dam or at Paws in the Park. I served on the Board of Helping Hands from 1999-2006, part of that time as Secretary and seeing the New Shelter Open this year is a dream come true for all of us HHHS Volunteers down through the years.
My Radio Career is often time consuming, which doesn’t leave room many outside interests, but I manage to squeeze in Tuesday Night bowling, season Tickets for both Topeka Civic Theatre and Topeka Community Concerts and this year 2013- my Monthly Girls Night Out group celebrates our 20th Anniversary.
In recent years, I’m fortunate to have hosted two trips through Cruise Holidays of Topeka. I toured Alaska in 2011 with 88 listeners and Ireland in 2012 with 66 listeners. This year August 3-10th- I l host a 7 day New England/Canada Cruise. I handpicked this one! If you are interested in knowing more about it please call Cruise Holidays of Topeka for a brochure- 785- 271-9889.
I see the “On Air” Light outside the Studio is flashing- it’s time to get back on the Air!