Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Williamsport Radio: Iconic Ken Sawyer Ready To Sign-Off

Ken Sawyer
A Williamsport treasure broadcaster Ken Sawyer has announced his retirement.  Sawyer will hang-up his day-to-day headphones on the Clear Channel-owned WRAK on May 31.  Although, he will continue to broadcast play-by-play of the Little League World Series this August as he has since the early ‘70s.

Except for his start at a small station in Warrenton, VA before military service, Sawyer’s entire radio career has kept him in Williamsport for 43-years, where he’s worked for two stations and three owners.  He’s hosted on WRAK 1400 AM and WRKK 1200 AM since 1988, then-owned by Dame Media, and also served as program director for the stations.  Previously, he was PD for the Ott family’s WPPA “The Twin” 1340 AM.   Sawyer spent 18-years at WWPA before crossing the street.

In the Williamsport community, Sawyer has served more than 25 years as a Red Cross volunteer, including as county chairman in 1991-1993. He has served on the board of directors of North Central Sight Services, Lycoming County-Brotherhood County USA, the West Branch Sports Hall of Fame and Junior Achievement.

Sawyer has received several honors including being inducted to the West Branch Valley Chapter Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.  Ken was named winner of the Douglas Dickey Award as Humanitarian of the Year for 2002 by Lycoming County United Way. In 2004 Ken was named the winner of the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association annual Roy Morgan Award for broadcast excellence.

Accolades for Sawyer:
  • Williamsport radio news anchor John Finn Jr calls Sawyer professional broadcaster and a great man. “Ken deserves the absolute best on his retirement”.
  • Tom Scott, PD of Clear Channel’s B107.5 FM  worked for several years with Sawyer and calls him a gentleman, a kind soul, a good teacher, a great father, a good friend and a damn good broadcaster with a love of sports and his community.
  • Bill Rehkopf, PM Drive Host at KDKA Pittsburgh, says Sawyer taught him patience and the value of knowing the community you serve.
  • Scott Masteller, Sr. Director of ESPN Radio Content, calls Sawyer a tremendous teacher. “Many of the lessons he taught me have served me well in the business as well as in life!”
  • Former WKSB 1027 KISS-FM radio personality Lou Kolb recalls when he came to town in 1974, “one of the first voices I heard on the radio was Ken Sawyer's. This morning in 2013, I turned on the radio and there he still was.”
He's looking forward to retirement, although he's unsure how he'll fill the days.

"I don't have any hobbies," he said. "(But) at this point in my life, I'm 65. I'll soon be 66. I just need some time off."   His wife is also retiring from her job this year, so the timing is just right.

Over the years, he's taken no extended vacations.

"We do know we are staying in the area," he told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. His three children and all his grandchildren are here.

Sawyer, for his part, says he will surely miss the people.  "I'm not going to miss the alarm going off at 4 o'clock," he launghs.

Sawyer says there have been many technological changes during his 43-year career. But added, his greatest fear for radio is “we’re not training future broadcasters.”

WRAK is replacing Sawyer’s morning show with the RJ Harris Show, which originates at WHP 580 AM in Harrisburg.

Tom's Take: It was a great honor to work with Ken Sawyer in the late '80s, early '90s.  His steady hand guided his stations and helped mold countless radio co-workers and indeed his listeners.  Williamsport radio airwaves will miss Ken Sawyer. Best of luck Ken and may you enjoy a long retirement with your family.

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