Ken Blue Memorial Page

Messages from members and friends sent to will be posted on this page.


Kenneth Dean Blue, 93, passed away on May 2, 2018. He was born in Long Beach, California on September 18, 1924.

Living near the harbor and watching ships from all over the world had a profound influence on young Ken. He always wanted to go to sea. His adventures as a Merchant Seaman from 1941 to 1946 are recalled in the book Civilian At Risk, published by Amazon.

After WWII, Ken had a 17-year career in radio and television broadcasting followed by another 23 years in broadcast related activity at California State University, Sacramento. He retired in 1987.

Ken began his broadcasting career in 1947 at a radio station in Bisbee, Arizona. It was there that he met and married Helen, his wife of 68 years. In 1950 Bill Karpisek, Chief Engineer at KROY, offered Ken a job in Sacramento. In 1955 Ken was hired as studio supervisor by new television station KCRA-TV. Then in 1964 he began a 23-year career at CSUS.

Ken Blue was the driving force that made CSUS a broadcast licensee. This occurred in 1964 when the FCC was granting FM licenses to educational facilities, usually in the FM band between 88.1 and 91.9 MHz. Ken installed a small 10 Watt FM transmitter high above the theater stage. The actual FM transmission antenna was a 2 bay Jampro V-type horizontal antenna located on the theater rooftop, and KERS on 90.7 MHz was born.

Later, Ken was helpful in getting KERS a power increase to 5kW from the same location on campus. The station was strictly student operated until CSUS administrators became concerned that they could be held responsible for libel or slander originated by the students. The administration closed down KERS in 1976. With support from McClatchy Broadcasting and members of the CSUS faculty, CSUS received a Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) grant to construct noncommercial FM station KXPR on 88.9 MHz. Ken and McClatchy engineers were helpful in convincing KTXL-TV engineer Bob Nelson to allow operation of KXPR from the KTXL-TV tower in Walnut Grove. KXPR signed on the air April 2, 1976.

Ken was an advocate for veterans' rights and served as President of the Sacramento Valley Chapter of American Merchant Marine Veterans until 2017.

SBE Chapter 43 thanks Jeff Browne, Bob Hess, Tom Hughes, Kent Randles, Dan Shively, and Steve Sparks for their contributions to this obituary.

Messages from Members and Friends

I first met Ken, along with Herb Hartman and Bill Karpisek, in the mid-fifties at some of the TV equipment demonstrations put on by RCA at various locations on the West Coast. All three had been working in AM radio. To prepare for the arrival of TV in Sacramento, they and several others had commuted several nights a week to the John O'Connell School in San Francisco. I also worked with Ken on a few of the West Coast originations of the old Dave Garroway live show. After I joined KCRA-TV in 1960, I had the pleasure of working with Ken for about one year at the studio during the time the Transtower was being built.

— Tom Hughes