Hunter Hall of Fame

Jack McKenna

Born: Aug. 13, 1923
Died: Dec. 8, 2013

He was born Jack Maltby, son of Georgiana and John Maltby, but during his 50-year career on radio and television everyone knew him as Jack McKenna -- the last name coming from his stepfather, William McKenna.

McKenna attributed his career in broadcasting to his involvement in school plays while at Denfeld High School, where he graduated in 1940.

He attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, then served as a meteorologist in the United States Air Force in England during World War II, predicting the weather for bombing raids. He returned home and began his career in 1946 with a gig at WDSM radio, then located on Connor’s Point in Superior.

McKenna ruled the air waves in the Twin Ports from the time the first television station went on the air until 1989. He was lead weatherman in Duluth-Superior for over four decades. Beginning in 1954 on WDSM-TV and then on WDIO-TV in 1966. He was one of the first meteorologists to serve in this capacity in this area. Other stations had less well-trained personalities reporting the weather, so McKenna’s reports had a distinct air of authenticity.

In a poll taken in 1977, Jack was voted most popular on-air personality in the Duluth-Superior market.

He was known for his warm and friendly personality and his ability to sell everything from M & K clothing and Kentucky Fried Chicken to Bridgeman’s ice cream during his commercial breaks.

He was just as famous during the day with kids throughout the region. He hosted a program of afternoon movies, cartoons and Laurel and Hardy shorts on WDSM, playing the role of Captain Q -- with his rubber parrot Angus and Shortcake the Chimp -- onboard a mysterious pirate ship. Years later, he also hosted a program of late-night horror flicks on WDIO, playing the role of Professor Fantastic.

During the 1970s he left the Twin Ports and took his talent to the major markets of San Francisco, Denver, Minneapolis, Tucson and Houston before returning to his home area again on WDSM-TV (now KBJR) and then another stint on WDIO.

His career spanned 65 years including his 12 years hosting “Radio Superior” with Lew Martin and the late Ray Paulsen on KUWS-FM in Superior, where he made his home.

Along with his wife Marge he raised three sons -- Brian, John and Kevin.

Hall of Fame Members

 

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