John (Jack) Kean

  • Years at WGBH: 1958 – 1968
  • Position(s): Engineer

From Jack Kean — 2000

I finally left ‘GBH in 1968 to go to Connecticut, where I have been ever since, first as director of engineering until 1986, then manager of technical planning, a consultant role, until now. I am still carried as a full time employee, but I actually put in between fifteen and twenty hours a week as a consultant to them, plus a few hours for others.

Along the way, I got involved with a lot of national stuff, representing PBS on numerous technical standards committees for many years and serving as a consultant to them on various FCC ATV working parties from 1986 until 1990, as the high definition broadcast standard was developed.

For me, a guy with not a great deal of education, its been a terrific run! I still pinch myself sometimes and wonder if it all happened! For me, the WGBH experience was key to everything that followed. It was a very creative group of people, in the right place at the right time, with excellent leadership (Although it didn’t always seem that way at the time).

By the time Davis left, even though Bob Larson died, and there was no other real successor, the momentum was so great the place didn’t even hiccup! When I looked around the table at national meetings during the next twenty years, it seemed every second person was a WGBH alumni. The demanding environment we operated in rubbed off on all of us, even me. It affected everything I’ve done ever since.

It’s such fun to go through the Web site and have memories come flooding back.

  • Those nights at the Zebra, with fifteen people in the booth and always ending up 1/15th after the collection
  • Turning down the sound on Paul Noble’s television set while everyone took a speaking part in old movies
  • Greg Harney driving the crew to the New York Worlds Fair Remote to save money, with the rental station wagon rear window malfunctioning in the open position in a driving rain, while Wil Morton kept whistling “Let Hertz put you in the Driver’s seat”
  • Cameras automatically dollying in on Ruth Ann’s Camp whenever anyone let go of them
  • The day the bus got stuck on the Mass Avenue bridge in a snowstorm, causing a traffic backup all the way to Route 128, and effectively shutting Boston down for the day while Hartford Gunn worried the radio stations would identify the “vehicle” as belonging to us (They never did).
  • Dick Oldham locking himself out of 84 Mass Ave while running the FM board and having to shimmy up the entrance and walk along the ledge until he found an open window.
  • It just goes on forever!

I’m in my seventies, hope to keep working for at least another few years, and in pretty good health. I thought my golf game would get better when I took more time to work on it. It never did, but I still enjoy it. I’m still married to Lucille, have three children and nine grandchildren, live in Stuart, Florida half the time and Old Saybrook, Conn. the remainder. I’ll be at NAB during the reunion, but I’ll be thinking of all you people back where you started, living it up! Drop a line and say hello when you get a chance.


  1. Alex Pirie on December 24, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    lol, still remember Al Potter opening up the back of a video rack of somekind and finding one of your cigar stubs! Huge guffaws! “I know who did this repair!” said Al. Also remember a serious discussion on employment and salary we had one night during the wiring of the control room at 125 and how the world was divided into planners and grunters. You taught me a lot, thanks, Jack.

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