They don't make 'em like Jack McKenna anymore.
The Duluth News Tribune reported that McKenna, one of northern Minnesota's earliest, most versatile and most enduring TV and radio personalities, died Sunday of natural causes. He was 91.
The Northland's News Center, one of the stations where McKenna held court on the airwaves, noted that McKenna was among the first local broadcasters to provide a televised weather forecast, starting in the 1950's. McKenna was also one of the first TV meteorologists, after serving in that position in the U. S. Air Force during World War II. He was a weatherman at several stations in the area for 40 years. During much of that tenure, he launched into live commercials in the midst of the forecast.
McKenna was also Captain Q, host of a children’s program that included a parrot sidekick and bleachers full of juvenile fans live in the studio. Later, he became Professor Fantastic, host of late-night horror shows.
“He was larger than life,” Mike Simonson of Wisconsin Public Radio said. "He connected. He had fun with it. He made remarks that were silly, but never stupid. People loved Jack McKenna. He was their weatherman.”
McKenna was a 1940 graduate of Duluth Denfeld High School and is in the school's hall of fame. A lengthy profile on the school's website proudly notes that he "..went on to become one of Duluth’s most popular radio and television personalities. He says his career in broadcasting was influenced by his involvement in school plays while at Denfeld."
On the News Tribune page devoted to Duluth history, viewers and a few co-workers remembered what one man called "one of the last of the Twin Ports broadcasting pioneers."
The Facebook page for Radio Superior, which features old-style radio on Fridays from 6:30pm to 9pm on 91.3 KUWS and 90.9 WUWS, said that McKenna had guested on the show as recently as last July.
Here's Jack McKenna's weather report from 1973.