Louisville Times Article - January 15, 1966

The Idol of the Teens
Disc Jockey Ken Douglas says it's because he identifies with them
By Moyra Schroeder 

A year ago a young Englishman, out to seek his fortune and see the world, stopped in Louisville to look up some friends.

He was planning to stick around a day or so before lighting out for Texas -- or someplace.

But 25-year-old Ken Douglas, tall and slim, liked Louisville and decided to stick around for a while. He got a job as a salesman in a haberdashery. Then he taped a couple of commercials for his employer.

That was the beginning of a disc jockey career for Douglas, who says he's "always ready to have a go at anything."

Now, only a year later, he is the object of adulation by more than 1,400 teenage members of the Ken Douglas Fan Club.

He is in constant demand to emcee teenage dances, to make personal appearances in high school assemblies, and to judge beauty and talent contests.

He believes there are several factors involved:

  • He is English.
  • He knows most of the popular recording groups in England.
  • He can identify himself with teenagers and their problems.
  • He is sincere.

These factors, plus an instinctive showmanship and a confidence that borders on cockiness, make him an idol of Louisville teenagers who are smitten with the current passion for the "London look."

In Douglas, whom they can talk to and touch, they find a link with the music they love and recording groups whose records they buy.

"He's different. He's REALLY interested in us. He just blossoms all over," says Liz Harris, 17, who goes to Presentation Academy.

"He's got a good personality and it's good to have someone from England," says Laurie Rondi, 20.

Karen Suhre, 16, also at Presentation, giggles when asked about Douglas. She doesn't know why she likes him "only that he's different and I like the way he looks. He's alive and he seems real interested in what's going on. Maybe it's 'cause he looks like a Beatle."

Ken Douglas (L) with a group of teenage admirers

Douglas wears long hair, tight pants and a lapel-less jacket to give him a definite "Beatle look." "It's what the teenagers expect," he said in an interview at radio station WKLO, where he holds forth with patter and platters six evenings a week.

"Teenagers dig the Beatle look. I'm like a rebel, with my long hair. It bugs grown-ups, but it doesn't bug me." He smiled and his gentle brown eyes shone with fun.

"I like to respect people (adults) and I like them to respect me. But if they don't, they can go to hell."

"And another thing," he went on in rapid, nasal tones. "I understand how they (teens) feel. I know about their despair and problems and unhappiness. Kids come by here to see me. I converse with them. I like them and I play the records they request."

Blames The Parents

Most requests are for rock music records by such groups as Herman's Hermits, the Animals, the Rolling Stones and, above all, the Beatles.

Asked why teenagers are obsessed with rock music, Douglas answered, "They've got to unwind and this is part of it." He grew serious.

The need to unwind, he said, is there because parents have failed to teach values.

"Look," he said, and his voice was urgent and, somehow, a little sad.

"A parent says 'Oh God, this is the new generation. What are we going to do? When I was her age, I never this or that.'"

This parental dilemma, he says, occurs because "…parents give their children THINGS. If only they were to hold back a little. But they are lazy in a sense. They don't give culture and manners -- and this costs nothing and can only be taught."

Then, when it's too late, Douglas said, "Parents meddle and think they have a right to have a say and to intervene."

Held Various Jobs

Born in London, Douglas' home is in the county of Surrey. He father is a retired surveyor. His mother is dead. He has three brothers and two sisters. He finished high school and, at 17, struck out on his own to see the world.

He has been a deckhand on cargo ships, a swimming instructor aboard the liner Caronia and a squash instructor aboard the Queen Elizabeth. He has been a construction worker. Three years ago he took up boxing.

He was England's amateur middleweight champion two years ago, he says. "And in Bombay, a little over a year ago, I knocked out the Anglo-Indian amateur middleweight champion in the third round."

"It's hard to say what I'll do next," Douglas mused.

He'd like to settle down one day, marry and rear a family, but "…not yet. First I'd like to have a crack at acting and maybe -- this sounds odd -- but I love fashion and I'd love to have a part in it." In the meantime, though, he'll go on with what he's doing now.