April 18, 2018 – (Key West, FL). Florida broadcasting featured in Key West Art & Historical Society’s next Distinguished Speaker Series presentation

On Thursday, May 3, Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series welcomes guest Donn R. Colee Jr., to Old City Hall, 510 Greene Street, where he will present “Towers in the Sand: The History of Florida Broadcasting.” The 6:00pm discussion centers around stories and anecdotes from his book by the same name, spotlighting some of broadcasting’s proudest moments: hard-hitting journalism and editorials, lifesaving moments through decades of hurricanes, and lighthearted moments with favorite personalities and promotions.

“Towers in the Sand is more than a story of Florida broadcasting,” says Colee. “It is a social history of the state from the boom time days of the 1920s through devastating hurricanes in 1926-1928, through the depression, through World War II and post-war boom, through today when technology threatens the medium that got us through all those events.”

A seventh-generation Floridian and second-generation Florida broadcaster, Colee launched his broadcasting career while a teenager in Orlando as a rock n’ roll radio disc jockey. He did service in the US Navy, then worked in advertising and public relations before eventually resuming his broadcasting career at West Palm Beach’s CBS television station.

With special emphasis on South Florida and the Keys, Colee’s presentation will cover some of  the people, radio and television stations, and events that built an industry in the state of Florida, including the 1922 race between Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville to have the first licensed broadcast station in Florida. Colee also touches on the area’s broadcasting past, revealing how a former Monroe County Sheriff and State Senator launched the Keys first radio station, to the recent lifeline US 1 Radio’s Bill Becker and Ron Saunders provided during Hurricane Irma. Colee’s presentation will underscore the value provided by local radio with hopes that they receive the support needed to continue their important services.

“I am very concerned about the precarious future for local radio and television stations as people “forget” the value they bring to communities through local news and editorials, staff members that live and work in the local community, and very importantly, the fact that when the next hurricane comes today’s favorite source of news, information, and connectivity—the Internet, Facebook, etc.—will be useless,” says Colee. “Local radio is the only medium that can communicate without power or Internet connections. All you need is a battery powered AM/FM radio, a fact experienced by thousands of Keys citizens during last year’s Hurricane Irma.”

Following Colee’s presentation, copies of “Towers in the Sand: The History of Florida Broadcasting,” will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Distinguished Speaker Series presentation tickets are $5 for KWAHS members, $10 for non-members, and are available at kwahs.org (click “Tickets”). Advanced ticket purchase is recommended.  The Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsored by the Helmerich Trust and the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. For more information, contact Adele Williams, Director of Education, at 305.295.6616, x115. Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.

Photo Caption:

On Thursday, May 3, 6:00-7:00pm at Old City Hall, Key West Art & Historical Society Distinguished Speaker Series guest Donn R. Colee Jr., will share insights on the history of Florida radio broadcasting followed by a book signing. (Contributed photo)