Contact News

|Philip Nye | George Hunter |John Maher | Ed Mullen | Bob Neil | Erik Smith |
Lou Morton | Bill Applegate (WKNR FM) | Frank Beckman (Stereo Island) | Keener AirCheck Central

An important dimension of the WKNR experience was its award winning news department. While the tight play list and personality of the announcers may have appealed to the younger demos, Keener Contact News was decidedly focused on the adult audience.

Then as now, broadcast journalism in Detroit was cut-throat competitive. Contact news got it right and got it first often scooping larger, more well funded news operations.

Keener’s first news director, Philip Nye, came to the station from an eight year stint at Portsmouth, Ohio’s WNXT. He assembled a team of 7 reporters that attacked the events in Detroit with an energy and enthusiasm that was the envy of many Keener competitors.

Unlike CKLW’s 20/20 news, WKNR stuck to the facts – without the blood and guts sensationalism, often providing more detailed coverage of a key story than is now the case in our era of sound-byte journalism. The station won over two dozen journalism awards, including best regularly scheduled newscast, best local spot news coverage, best regularly scheduled hard news documentary and best local special events coverage. For several years, the news department produced a year end documentary album that was provided to local libraries and schools as a historical record.

WKNR News Year in Review Albums

WKNR was recognized two years in a row as Associated Press Member Station of the year and the quality is clearly evident in the newscasts preserved in the archive.

Over the years Contact News featured the journalistic talents of Bill Applegate, Frank Beckman, Bill Bonds, Jim Brooker, Dick Buller, George Hunter, John Maher (Meagher), Al Morgan, Lou Morton, Ed Mullen, Mike O’Niel, Paul Roberts, Erik Smith, Vince Smith, Scott White, and Brian Wood.

Some Keener newsmen, like Bill Bonds, Frank Beckman and Erik Smith have become Detroit institutions, others like John Maher went on to glory at the network level. Jim Brooker migrated from journalism to information technology and remained with the organization through its transition to WNIC in an administrative capacity.

To listeners throughout the Keener era, Contact News was a trusted source for important information and a key component of the WKNR success formula.

The WKNR News Staff

George Hunter

Ed Mullen

Dick Buller

John Maher

Mike O’Neill

Al Morgan

Vince Smith

Paul Roberts

Jim Brooker

Brian Wood

Scott White

Bill Bonds

Philip Nye

Erik Smith

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  1. bob johnson
    Aug 27th, 2009 at 12:21 | #1

    i used to go out with katie knorr in the late 60’s. now i live in las vegas with no contacts with anyone. any way to contact her or our old friends. thanks bob johnson

  2. Patricia Arwine Hoenighausen
    Jan 7th, 2011 at 18:37 | #2

    Sad news came to The Rationals fan’s today.
    Terry Trabrandt has passed away in Florida, December 28, 2010.
    Terry was the bass player for The Rationals.
    If possible please play “Respect” by the Rationals in memory for Terry.

  3. Fan from the 60s
    Oct 2nd, 2012 at 13:03 | #3

    Just a comment as this website brings back memories from long ago… I remember sitting on the front porch (Cook Street in Southgate) listening to WKNR Keener13 on my transistor radio as a 5 year old (1963). I also remember a really good song starting and how I rushed over to turn off the radio thinking I could somehow save that song until after dinner was done. Wow. That was a long time ago, but I will never forget Keener13!

  4. Jerry Goodwin
    Mar 27th, 2014 at 04:45 | #4

    So proud to have worked with these brilliant newsmen during my days at ‘KNR.

  5. Terry Kovarik
    Jun 13th, 2014 at 09:30 | #5

    Just a note. My cousin, Lynn Patrick Kovarik, who worked under the air name Pat Kelly at WKNR, WCAR (1130) and WXYZ-AM in the 1960’s and 1970’s died August 12, 2013 at his home in St. Joseph, MI. He was 71. He left Detroit in the mid-1970’s to become news director at WOW-AM in Omaha. He left radio and returned to Michigan in the early 1980’s. He worked for Cook Energy in Bridgeman before retiring. He’s survived by his wife, Sandy, and children Jonathon and Jonanna.

  6. Scott Westerman – Curator –
    Jun 15th, 2014 at 13:44 | #6


    All of us at send our deepest sympathies to Sandy and the family. We remember Pat Kelly well. All who passed through the doors of 15001 Michigan Avenue took the Keener spirit with them wherever they went. Pat built a great body of work in radio and will always be thought of fondly in Keenerland.

  7. Scott White
    Aug 2nd, 2017 at 17:55 | #7

    I was honored to have worked in the WKNR newsroom for about two years (1970-72). Dick Buller, Vince Smith, Jim Brooker and of course Paul Roberts (McGonigle) formed me as a radio journalist. Phil Nye who hired me but left for Channel 7 before I started was one of the absolute best of the new wave of broadcast news leaders in the 60s and beyond. The saddest day of my short stay at WKNR was the last newscast I did under those call letters, as it then became WNIC.

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