Broadcast Pioneers Luncheon
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Broadcast Pioneers member Wally Kennedy, a fixture in Philadelphia broadcasting for more than thirty years, currently is a news anchor at KYW Newsradio 1060, which he joined in June of 2006. A native of Chicago, Kennedy got an appetite for broadcasting through a contest he entered after his freshman year in college. The "Guest Teen DJ" competition on WLS in Chicago put him on the air, for the first time anywhere, on the 50,000-watt rock station heard throughout the Midwest. It went well-enough that he eventually used the tape as an audition reel to get hired at his first announcing job, later in college.
Kennedy’s first regular job in broadcasting began while he was a sophomore in college, working as a page at WGN TV-Radio. There, he gave tours and handled live studio audiences for shows like “Bozo's Circus”, helping producers wrangle an audience of 200 kids and parents every day.
A year later, he got his initial on-air break spinning records at AM/FM radio stations in Evanston, Ill. Three years at Evanston stations paid his way through Columbia College in Chicago where he received is undergrad degree. After beginning military service in the Army Reserve, Kennedy left Chicago land for Flint, Michigan, working as an all-night deejay. The station wanted to experiment with the then-new “all talk” format and his show “Flint Feedback” was #1 within six months. Kennedy explains: “Growing up in a large Irish-Catholic family with a college professor dad, talk came pretty naturally.”
His ratings success drew the attention of the late night national TV host Tom Snyder. Kennedy’s appearance as a guest on Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show was his first appearance on network television. Flint played a key role in his personal life as well. While making an appearance for the station to give a speech at a local high school, he met the teacher who became his wife in1975.
In 1976, Kennedy made the jump to a powerhouse Atlanta radio station WSB, the 50,000-watt "voice of the south". During his years there as a highly rated talk show host and staff announcer, he got his first break in television at Atlanta stations WTBS and WAGA.
Recruited by a CBS talent scout to come to Philadelphia, Kennedy first arrived in Philadelphia in 1981, to work at all-talk radio WCAU, and became a dominant force in the ratings as host of the popular daytime call-in program, "The Wally Kennedy Show."
Kennedy became a recognizable face on Philadelphia TV when he moved across City Avenue, leaving behind WCAU radio for the studios of WPVI-TV in the summer of 1984. Beginning his twenty-year relationship with Channel 6 as co-host of the durable, #1-ranked morning show “AM/Philadelphia,” Kennedy built on the momentum he had established with LIVE interviews. Week after week, Kennedy questioned prominent national and key local newsmakers, celebrities and everyday Philadelphians. As a producer and host of several programs over two decades, Kennedy earned high ratings for subsequent shows "Philly After Midnight," "Sunday Live," and "Inside Story.
Wally Kennedy has taught broadcasting and communications students at both Temple University and Immaculata University. He and his wife are the parents of three children and make their home in Chester County, Pa.
On Friday evening, November 18, 2011, Wally Kennedy was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bob Kravitz
Bio written by Broadcast Pioneers member Liz Matt
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