Ken Mills began his radio career in 1967 as a DJ at rocking contemporary hit station: KISD, Sioux Falls, SD. He then worked at early progressive rock stations including "eclectic oriented rock" WCCO-FM, Minneapolis.
In the late 1970s, Mills began managing album rock stations. In 1982 he won a new FCC license and built KSQY-FM "K-SKY" in the Black Hills. K-SKY signed on September 1982 and soon became a top station in the market.
NATIONAL PROGRAM SYNDICATION
In 1987 Mills joined Transtar Radio Network, a pioneer of satellite-delivered 24/7 music formats. At Transtar he brought in over 100 new affiliates and added more than 500,000 new listeners to the network.
Mills learned the art and science of national syndication from Bill Moyes, Gary Fries, Ron Ruth and Neil Sargent at Transtar hubs in Colorado Springs and Los Angeles.
MOVE FROM COMMERCIAL TO NONCOMMERCIAL RADIO
Mills grew disillusioned with commercial radio and moved into noncommercial NPR public radio in 1989. He managed KCSU in Fort Collins and KCSN in LA. While at KCSN, Mills created and marketed the noncom hit show Classical Countdown, a weekly countdown based on the Billboard classical music charts. Classical Countdown was heard on more than 300 stations including clearance in all of the nation's top markets.
His achievements with Classical Countdown caught the attention of American Public Radio (APR) based in Minneapolis. In 1992 APR hired Mills to work with their nationally syndicated classical programming. In 1993 he became Director of News at APR and was in charge of marketing BBC World Service, Monitor Radio, Marketplace, The World and many others. APR changed its name to Public Radio International (PRI) in 1996.
CREATING KEN MILLS AGENCY, LLC
In 1997 Mills left PRI and opened KEN MILLS AGENCY, LLC "KMA" to provide in depth strategic planning, marketing and new program creation. KMA has worked with almost every major public radio progrram producer and public radio organization including CPB, NPR, APM, PRI and PRX. Some of the programs he has worked with are PBS Newshour, WBEZ & PRX's Sound Opinions, NPR's Justice Talking and APM's Weekend America.
KMA also does behind-the-scenes feasibility studies, assessments and analysis for organizations that fund and create noncommercial national programming.
WRITING, BLOGGING & PUBLICATIONS
In September 2014 Ken Mills began publishing the noncommercial media blog SPARK! The blog specializes in news, analysis and opinion regard all forms of noncommercial media, particularly public radio. The mission is to promote noncom media, raise business and programming standards and encourage sustainable public service. You can read SPARK! here.
Ken Mills is also the publisher and editor of two influential noncom radio directories: Public & Noncommercial Radio Station Directory (2007) and Public Radio Talk & Interview Program Directory (2008). Copies of these first-of-the-kind directories are still available from KMA.
Other publications include Guidebook on Unattended Station Operation (1992),Independence and Integrity: A Guidebook for Public Radio Journalism (1995) and articles for Radio & Records, Current, TripleARadio.com and several newsletters.
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY: Master of Mass Communication, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Telecommunication, Tempe, AZ (December 1986)
AUGUSTANA UNIVERISTY: B.A., Social Psychology, Sioux Falls, SD (May 1971)
ADJUNCT FACULTY: Colorado State University, California State University – Northridge, Arizona State University
FIVE KEY STEPS FOR SUCCESS & HAPPINESS
(courtesy of Malcolm Gladwell)
1. Find meaning and inspiration in your work.
2. Word hard.
3. Discover the relationship between effort and reward.
4. Seek out complex work to avoid boredom and repetition.
5. Be autonomous and control your own destiny as much as possible.