radio years . . .


radio deejay . . . 

For details about Ken's career in radio, which began as a rock 'n roll radio disc jockey in California, and then a News Director in Florida (which includes interviews with celebrities, senators, governors, and a future American president) go to:  --There is an interesting story that's briefly referenced within within my “Radio Years” page.  

my interview with Ted Kennedy . . . 

In 1976, before the Democratic Primary race, there were many high-ranking politicians gathered for a big political event at the Walt Disney Resort Hotel in Orlando. During my radio career I had gained a reputation for being able to secure exclusive (private) interviews with most of those I questioned. That included interviews with Jimmy Carter, with whom I had a private lunch, a 90-minute in-studio interview with Rosalyn Carter, and private interviews with my friend, Senator then later Governor Lawton Chiles of Florida. That was also the case when I interviewed U. S. Senator *Ted Kennedy, brother of John F. Kennedy at the Walt Disney Resort Hotel.

We had secured an ante room to the side and there was no one else in the room but the senator, his aide (I later learned that his aide was also his bodyguard), and myself. The interview was progressing nicely. I asked him about the rumors that his mother, Rose Kennedy, had misgivings about his seeking the presidency in light of the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy in 1963, and then Robert Kennedy, who had just won the California Primary for president in 1968. He replied that he was aware of his mother's concerns but that he was his "own man" and he would decide soon. Senator Kennedy knew that if he sought the U.S. Presidency he would first have to beat Jimmy Carter in the primary race for the Democratic Party.

for Kennedy, Chappaquiddick was a sore subject . . . 

But when I asked him the following question the atmosphere in the room changed dramatically. I asked,

"Senator Kennedy, if you do decide to challenge Jimmy Carter in the primary, and then become president, are you prepared for the inevitable questions you will get from the world media regarding Mary Jo Kopechne and Chappaquiddick, since the press has not been willing to let this issue go?" 

When I asked that question the senator's face got beet red, and he signaled to the other man in the room and that man tried to pick me up, then he shoved and pushed me towards the door. As I was being manhandled out of the room I shouted out at him,

"Senator, if you can't handle questions like this now, how will you handle the world media when they ask you about it?"

Mary Jo Kopechne was killed when she and the senator left a party on Martha's Vineyard on July 18, 1969 and the senator's Oldsmobile ran off a bridge and sank into the water. Controversy surrounded the events of that night. Kennedy failed to contact authorities for some 10 hours after the car went into the water. Although the official report indicated Ms. Kopechne drowned, the scuba diver who recovered her body from the car said she had a pocket of air in the car that could have sustained her for hours, and she did not drown, but she suffocated. The coroner also confirmed that the 28-year-old Ms. Kopechne suffocated, although this information was suppressed for years.

It turned out that Democratic voters felt the trust issue was more important than the Kennedy name and Jimmy Carter won the Democratic Primary and eventually defeated Gerald Ford in the general election to become the 39th president of the United States. 

*Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy died on August 25, 2009 of brain cancer.


The above story is featured in Ken's autobiography "The Prodigal Diaries," available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo

If you would like to schedule Ken Simmons to speak to your church or organization he can be contacted at: Ken Simmons Ministries, Ontario, California or call (909) 957-8882.