Ken Double Entertainment

About

KEN DOUBLE, PRESIDENT and CHIEF EXECUTIVE
AMERICAN THEATRE ORGAN SOCIETY

It is not often that one gets paid to have fun for a living.  It is even rarer still when having fun and getting paid for it professionally happens twice in life.  Such has been the good professional fortune of Ken Double, the President and Chief Executive of the American Theatre Organ Society.

Until 2008, music was always the “second career,” almost an afterthought due to his 32 years in broadcasting.  The Chicago-native grew up with five brothers in a sports- loving family, but Ken was more enamored of the play-by-play announcers than he was the athletes, and as early as age six, was mouthing the words sitting in front of the television, “practice” broadcasting the games he watched.

He parlayed that interest into a Degree in Radio-TV from Butler University in Indianapolis, and began his broadcast career that included:

The award-winning broadcaster finished his career with 17 seasons of hockey play-by-play, including a brief stint with his beloved hometown team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Ken’s parents made sure all six of the boys were introduced to some kind of music, and for Ken, it was organ lessons starting at age eight.  About the time he was getting bored with that, and a high school radio station was providing broadcast opportunities, a school field trip took him to the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge, IL and a chance to play the Wurlitzer theatre organ, and it was for him as it is for so many, that “WOW!” moment.

Several weeks later, the same teacher who guided students on the field trip took a group to hear Gaylord Carter at Chicago’s famed Oriental Theatre and Ken was truly hooked.  He steered lessons in the theatre organ direction, including one year of studies with legendary organist Al Melgard, where Ken took his lessons on Wednesday afternoons at the Melgard studio, and then met his teacher later that night for the Blackhawks hockey game at the old Chicago Stadium.  Talk about careers coming full circle.

While Ken pursued his broadcast career, he continued playing the organ.  As a college senior, he provided music for sporting events at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis; worked summers as the organist at the famed Tommy Bartlett Water Show in Wisconsin Dells; later, had a stint subbing at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis.

While working his very first TV job in Lafayette, IN, Ken helped install the Mighty Wurlitzer at the Long Center, raising money, doing publicity, performing concerts and booking and promoting other shows at the former vaudeville house.  He premiered that organ in 1982 and has been playing annual concerts there ever since.  Ken’s career highlights include:

  • 32 years of concerts at Long Center in Lafayette, IN

  • Seven tours of Australia and New Zealand;

  • Twice invited to play concerts and act as Keynote Speaker for “Back To The Future” events in the UK;

  • Invited to act as the Master of Ceremonies for no fewer than 20 ATOS annual and regional conventions;

  • has performed concerts at 11 such events;

  • 20 concerts and two recordings with famed trumpet player Skip Stine, formerly with the Harry James Orchestra;

  • 17 CD recordings to his credit.

He accepted the top post at ATOS in the summer of 2007, and a year later, the Board of Directors asked Ken to accept the newly created position of President and Chief Executive.  He has been working diligently to raise funds, raise awareness, create new and exciting programs, and help steer the 58-year-old organization in a new direction to ensure its growth and existence for another 50 years and more.

Since his arrival, fundraising has generated nearly two million dollars, with the ATOS Endowment Fund topping the one million dollar mark; the Summer Youth Adventure and the Technical Experience have been added to the program list; and partnerships with organizations such as Ace Theatrical are opening doors for major installations of theatre pipe organs.

Broadcaster, musician, entertainer, MC, administrator, PR man, and even “crooner” occasionally, Ken Double has enjoyed “having fun and getting paid for it, not once, but twice!” As the song says, “Nice work if you can get it.”