GUEST INTERVIEW WITH KEN KRUG
Conducted by Jack French
(From Radio Recall, August 2009)
1) Our guest today is Ken Krug, who recently retired as editor of The Illustrated Press, the official publication of the Old Time Radio Club (of Western New York.) Tell us about your personal history... education... job career...
Thanks Jack... Here’s a little background: I arrived on the scene in 1935 while the country was still in the grip of the Great Depression and radio was the only form of entertainment most people had or could afford. During my formative years the radio in our house was always on in the background and whether I understood what I was hearing I can’t say for sure. In any event, I grew up with old time radio resonating in my eardrums.
At the age of four and a half years I was stricken with poliomyelitis (polio) which affected the lower portion of my left leg. My earliest recollection during my fight with this dreaded disease was listening to Eddie Cantor and Franklin D. Roosevelt establishing and pitching for the “March of Dimes.” Eddie soon became one of my favorites due to his zany and upbeat comedy routines and songs, Roosevelt, being President, was everyone’s hero and by the way, was also a polio victim.
While in the eighth grade, an older friend had interested me in the printing trade and I decided to take up the subject in high school. After school hours and during the summer I worked part time in a few small print shops as a “printer’s devil.” After high school, I continued my education at R-I-T, in Rochester, NY, earning a degree in Printing Management and graduating in 1958.
The next 24 years were spent working for several companies engaged in the printing of business forms for data processing on computers. I was involved in estimating, pricing, sales service, scheduling and production planning. Then, after spending the next 19 years working for a local printing firm producing multi-colored direct mail printing, I retired in the year 2001.
2) How and when did you get interested in Old Time Radio?
My interest in OTR started around 1978 while listening to a NPR program on my way to work and showing up late because I just had to hear the ending. I thought that was kinda neat and decided to tape any future broadcasts on my little portable cassette recorder. I joined up with the Old Time Radio Club of Buffalo in 1979, a year after it was established. Little did I realize then that my OTR collection would mushroom and go from cassette to reel-to-reel to CD and now to MP3 CDs.
3) What led to you taking over the editorial reins of The Illustrated Press in February 1996?
My predecessor Pete Bellanca, had taken over as editor of our club’s newsletter and at the time decided to rework it in order to make it compatible to computer generated composition. His tenure was supposed to be temporary but he wound up doing it for about three years. I volunteered to take on the editor’s job after he begged and pleaded with tear stained cheeks.
4) Can you describe what your usual routine is in putting out each monthly issue? How much time is involved and who helps you?
Routine is different each month. It depends on how many articles are available to print and what graphics are required. Sometimes hand written articles have to be type set while computer typed articles can be scanned and inserted into position using the correct type font. Member Rick Payne who writes the “Being There” column on radio tickets sends the composition via e-mail and all I have to do is drop it in place. The ticket illustrations are also e-mailed but they have to be resized and photo-shopped in order to get sharp black and white reproductions. All in all, I spend a good 10 to 15 hours in putting each issue together. My wife Pat, does the mailing chores (folding, taping, applying stamps and mailing labels).
5) The Illustrated Press always looks so professional... clear typeset, attractive photographs, well-chosen graphics. Are you responsible for the camera-ready copy that goes to the printer? How does that work?
Thanks for the compliment, Jack. I use a professional printer’s computer program which I was familiar with through my work experience. After setting up each page a print is generated on a laser printer providing good clear black and white reproduction. Photographs have varying sizes of screens inserted depending upon subject complexity. All 12 pages in the issue are placed in proper sequence and delivered to Brian Parisi’s office for printing. Brian is the son of Dom Parisi (our treasurer) and is a distributor of high end office copying machines and systems. The issue is completely printed, collated and corner stapled all in one complete operation on one of his machines.
6) How do you go about obtaining submissions? It must be tough to fill a monthly newsletter?
Submissions? We beg, borrow and steal. Please don’t tell your friends at your former office about the stealing part. Although it’s strange, it seems that each month there is always something available to fill an issue.
7) What have you enjoyed most about the 13 plus years you've had at the editor's desk?
Part of the enjoyment I’ve found has been learning something new about OTR with each issue and also working with people who are passionate on the subject. I have also enjoyed the opportunity of being creative.
8) Any regrets or disappointments relating to the job?
Only regret was not being able to generate enough member interest in writing articles.
9) What advice would you give to someone considering taking over your job, or any OTR editorship role?
Take the time to research the subject matter of articles chosen for publication so that the facts presented are clear, accurate and concise. The Internet is a great tool for verifying a lot of information. However, at times you’ll feel like Sisyphus rolling his boulder up the mountainside, don’t despair the satisfaction only comes after you realize you’ve done your best.
10) So... how will you fill your spare time, now that you've retired from your editor's job?
We’ve recently moved into an older home which requires a lot of remodeling to satisfy our needs. Also this spring we decided to dress up the surrounding area with shrubs and flowers and I intend to sit back and watch the hummingbirds do their thing.
Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to tell my story and best wishes to your club on its twenty-fifth anniversary year.