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Mackey, David R. (1917-1975) | Morse Department of Special Collections

Name: Mackey, David R. (1917-1975)
Fuller Form: Mackey, David Ray

Historical Note:

Dr. David Ray Mackey was a prominent educator and radio broadcaster.  He was born in Pensacola, Florida, on December 16, 1917, the son of Henry Jerome and Alta Theodora (Haynes) Mackey.  He did some undergraduate coursework and worked in broadcasting from 1935 to 1941, starting in Hutchinson, Kansas. While waiting to enter the U.S. Navy Air Corps during the Second World War, he met Eleanor Ely, the daughter of Mahlon Long Ely and Mary Wilson (Wolcott) Ely at a USO dance in Hutchinson.  Eleanor was a graduate of the College of William and Mary, soon to begin work for the War Department Signal Corps office in Washington, D.C.  They dated seriously and after she started working in D.C., he found work at a radio station in New Bern, North Carolina and regularly visited her in D.C.  They were married on July 3, 1943, and had four children together: Douglas Alan, Marilyn, Martha, & Robert Jerome.

After the war, he resumed his education at Northwestern University under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, receiving a Bachelor of Science with distinction in Speech in 1946, and a Master of Arts in Speech in 1947.  His degrees in speech were pursued with an emphasis on broadcasting and drama.  He then taught as an Instructor of Drama for the University of Texas from 1947-1949, where he was also production manager of their Radio House.  He returned to Northwestern University for doctoral work in speech and broadcasting in 1949, and taught in the School of Speech as a graduate assistant until completing his coursework.  His acclaimed book, Drama on the Air, a professional text on radio dramatizations, was published in 1951.  He taught as an Assistant Professor of Speech at Pennsylvania State University from 1951 to 1956 while completing his dissertation, an extensive two-volume history of National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters.  While at Pennsylvania State, he served as faculty adviser for WDFM 91.1, the college radio station, and was elected Burgess (Mayor) of the borough of State College, Pennsylvania, a position he held for three years.  He received his Ph.D. in Speech from Northwestern in 1956.  Subsequently, Dr. Mackey assumed the Chairmanship of the Division of Communication Arts at Boston University in 1957, where he taught as Professor of Communications until 1961 and inaugurated their doctoral program in communication arts.  During this time, he also served as an editor for the Journal of Broadcasting from 1956-1958.

In 1961, he left the faculty of Boston University and moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where he bought a partnership in KWHK Broadcasting Company, Inc., and served as president of the company and general manager of the radio station.  In time, he purchased two other radio stations, KTRC in Sante Fe, New Mexico and KBHS in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  He also worked with KHCC, a local NPR station sponsored by Hutchinson Community College.  He served a term as Mayor of Hutchinson from 1971-1972, and also served on the City Commission.  He was a prominent member of the community, and founded the Hutchinson Theatre Guild and Hutchinson Symphony.  He was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer, and died on September 26th, 1975 at the age of 60.


David R. Mackey papers, Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Christine Ayoub.  Memories of the Quaker past: stories of thirty-seven senior Quakers.  State College, PA: Xlibris Corporation, 2014.

Who's Who in America, vol. 29. Chicago, IL: A.N. Marquis, 1957.

Note Author: Patrick C. Dittamo

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