Peter Bennett Kenney, retired TV pioneer

January 4, 2013
Peter Bennett Kenney

Peter Bennett Kenney, 91, passed away Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, at his home in Henlopen Acres. Kenney was born Sept. 12, 1921, in Hartford, Conn. to John T. Kenney and Kathryn B. Kenney. In January, 1943, he married Geraldine Bullard of Hartford, his wife of nearly 70 years.

Kenney enlisted in the Army in January, 1942. He was assigned to the Signal Corps and served in the European Theatre during 1944-45.

Returning from military service in 1946, Kenney joined the radio department of a Hartford advertising agency. He later joined the sales staff of Radio Station WKNB in New Britain, Conn., and rose through management posts to become vice president and general manager. Kenney directed this company into the field of television. With a pioneering effort, he succeeded in February, 1953 at putting Channel 30 on the air, New England’s first UHF station. While Kenney was a co-owner and executive vice president of the company, it was purchased by NBC, and he joined the network organization.

Kenney transferred to NBC’s international division in 1959, and from a base in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was responsible for NBC’s television station construction and operation in South America. He returned to the United States briefly in 1960 to manage WRC-TV Channel 4 in Washington, D.C., and then returned to South America in 1961 as vice president, NBC International.

In 1962 Kenney was named a corporate officer of NBC and returned to the United States as vice president, Washington. There, he assumed the task of directing the company’s corporate relations activities in the nation’s capital, where his office worked with the White House, Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies, foreign embassies, interest groups, network affiliates and trade associations. He held this post until he retired in 1983.

During this period in Washington, Kenney served on numerous industry and government committees dealing with national and international communications policy. For those 22 years he served on the board of the National Association of Broadcasters and was awarded the industry’s Grover Cobb Award for his contributions to the industry. He served on the All-Channel Broadcasting Committee, the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, the National Industry Advisory Council, and during those years was a member of the National Press Club, the Broadcast Pioneers and Columbia Country Club.

Since retiring in 1983, Kenney resided in Henlopen Acres. He attended St Edmond Catholic  Church in Rehoboth Beach, and he was active in civic and community projects in Henlopen Acres.

In addition to his wife Geraldine, Mr. Kenney is survived by two sons, John T. Kenney (Constance Schantz) of Lewes, and Peter B. Kenney Jr. (Kathy Summerlee) of Atlanta, Ga.; five grandchildren, Christine Kenney of Santa Ana, Calif., Michael Kenney of New York, N.Y., Thomas Kenney of Orlando, Fla., Nicholas Allen of Washington, D.C., and Alice Kenney of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and his niece/godchild, Kathy Brignac, of Simsbury, Conn.

Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Monday, Jan. 7, at St. Edmond Catholic Church, 409 King Charles Ave., Rehoboth Beach.  Interment will be private.

Visitation will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan.  6, at Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, 16961 Kings Hwy., Lewes.

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