Remembering Ken Booth (1943-2019)

With the passing of Ken Booth on December 6, 2019, I wanted to take a look a back and post a few articles about him that ran in the local paper. Booth was born in Girard, and went to Rayville High school. Posted below are a few articles of interest. – Luke

Ken Fletcher Booth


Ken was born July 18, 1943, and passed away on December 6, 2019, in Bossier City, LA at home surrounded by his family.

He grew up in the cotton fields and cattle pastures of Richland Parish.

Ken had a phenomenal career that has touched so many for 50 plus years. Starting in radio and then News Director at KNOE TV. He was widely recognized for hard hitting investigations involving government fraud and abuse.

Ken’s most treasured accomplishments are his four children. His proudest career accomplishment was reporting as a White House correspondent for 19 years while covering the overseas summits and State visits of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.

He lived his later retirement years out in Yuma, Arizona at the foot of the Gila Mountains while still keeping everyone informed of current events through Facebook and of course his story telling. He gave everyone eyes to see what he sees through his eyes – the Arizona that he loved so much.

“It is imperative that those in high elective office not only hear what the people are saying, they must listen.”

“Men must be decided,” he pointed out, “on what they will not do, and then act with vigor in what they ought to do.”

Ken Booth, 1987

The following was written by Ken in 2017.

It Began In Rayville

May 5, 2017

It was Friday, May 5th. The year was 1961. John F. Kennedy was President, the controversial film Two Women starring Sofia Loren was the talked about movie of the day. Del Shannon’s “Runaway” dominated music being played on the radio. The banner headline across the top of the Monroe News Star that day told us that Alan Shepard had become the first American to travel into outer space, making a sub-orbital flight of 15 minutes.

That also was the day a man named Henry (Sangi) Cumpton agreed to let me work weekends as an announcer and news reader at little 250 Watt radio station KRIH in Rayville, Louisiana. It was in one of six or seven small cabins that made up a U.S. Hwy. 80 motel east of town. The ‘news reader’ part came once an hour with copy pulled from an old AP machine in a small closet. I’m sure that neither Henry or I either one had any idea that a career was born that would last until January 1st, 2006. I’m positive the station’s owner did not ever think it.

Sometime later when I told him I was moving on to another station, he suggested that I seriously consider doing something different with my life because, “you won’t make it in broadcasting.” I can still hear his words as clear as day. And he was reminded of it for certain when I returned from my first overseas trip to Moscow with Richard Nixon as a member of the White House Press Corps. He is deceased now and I regret having so confronted him that night at the Monroe Civic Center.

For better or worse, 19 years of White House travels with 5 presidents to most of the world, government fraud and corruption investigations, and maybe a million personal stories since…. 56 years after Henry Cumpton said, “We’ll give it a try,” I equate wholly with the immortal words of Larry McMurtry’s Ranger Captain Augustus McCrae who, upon looking back on his own career said, “It’s been quite a party, ain’t it?”

Other Local News Clippings of Interest

Ken Booth Elected President Of Press Broadcasters Assn.

25 Apr 1970, Sat • The Richland Beacon-News

Ken Booth, a native of Rayville, has been elected to an unprecedented third term as president of the Louisiana Associated Press Broadcasters Association. The election was held last week end in New Orleans where the group’s 140 radio and television stations met in convention. Booth, now the director of news at KEEL. Radio in Shreveport, had earlier served as vice president of the organization and as an ex-officio member of its board of directors.

The 26-year-old newsman was named earlier this year to the powerful committee on performance of the Associated Press Radio Television Association, a national organization which represents over three thousand radio and television stations nationwide. Ken was selected to represent thirteen southern states on the four-man committee. Meeting in New York throughout the year, the performance committee decides policy for the news service broadcast wire, Booth launched his career in broadcast journalism in Rayville while attending high school here. He worked part-time for the local radio station in 1963. A year later, he moved to Baton Rouge, where for five years he concentrated on political writing. Ken has annually captured top awards in Louisiana – Mississippi Associated Press news writing com petition.

He has won three consecutive awards for best radio news documentary; he has been present ed the best sports show on radio award twice; he has copped the best newscast on radio in a large market award for the past two years; he has won the AP award for best coverage of an extraordinary event; the Associated Press award for best radio news report (shared with other stations) award, twice; and the coveted Associated Press award for consistent quality news reporting. Officials of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters have called Booth “a champion of the public’s right-to-know.”

And his challenge of those who would suppress that right has been cited in the Congress of the United States. Ken is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Booth of Girard. Upon his graduation from Rayville High School, he attended Northeast Louisiana State College and LSU. He is married to the former Marilyn Gallman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Marion Gallman of Rayville. The couple has four children, three daughters: Kim, Kay, and Kathy, and u. son, William Kenneth.

Booth To Accompany President Carter

28 Dec 1977, Wed • The Richland Beacon-News

The White House has announced that KKKL-KMBQ News Director Ken Booth will accompany President Carter on his forthcoming world trip. Mr. Ken Booth, is a 1961 graduate of Rayville High School where he majored in English and Band. He attended Northeast La. State University in Monroe 1961-64 while working at Rayville radio station KRIH where he earned his first commercial broadcast license. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Booth who reside near Girard.

Rayville Native Honored By Jaycees

4 Mar 1976, Thu • The Richland Beacon-News

Ken Booth, a native of Rayville, has been named one of “Louisiana’s Three Outstanding Young Men of 1975.”

Now a resident of Bossier City where he is a broadcast journalist, Booth received the honor from Louisiana Jaycees at ceremonies held in Baton Rouge recently. He graduated from Rayville High School in 1961. His wife is the former Marilyn Gallman of Rayville and they have four children. His parents are Mr. and Mrs. Bill Booth of Girard. Booth is director of news operations at KEEL/KMBQ radio in Shreveport and has won professional honors from state and national groups.

In 1974 he accompanied then President Richard Nixon to the Moscow summit meeting and has been invited by the White House to fly with President Gerald Ford on a mission to five Mid-East countries scheduled for next month. A university lecturer and author, Booth has received the “Silver Gavel” presented by the American Bar Association for work in the field of criminal justice and a Peabody Award nomination for political writing.

Booth announces candidacy for Sheriff

28 Jul 1987, Tue • The Richland Beacon-News

Ken Booth, 1961 graduate of Rayville High School and resident of the Start-Crew Lake community, has announced officially his candidacy for the office of Sheriff of Richland Parish. Booth, 44, a Democrat, is seeking the elective office for the first time after a distinguished 27-year career as a broadcast journalist during which time he has been honored with more than 150 major awards for political writing and government analysis.

Until his resignation last week to qualify for the Richland sheriff race, he was the director of news with KNOE-TV and KNOE-Radio, Monroe. At the same time, Booth announced his retirement from his unique position as an independent member of the White House Press Corp for Overseas Missions in which he has served for the past 13 years during the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. In his statement, the Rayville native targeted goals of “stability, integrity and fiscal responsibility” citing his experience in managerial levels of two multi-million dollar corporations and highly successful peripheral work in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

His principal concerns, Booth said, are illegal drugs and the drug traffic, both of which will be major planks in his platform for the office. Also the candidate said he would seek to upgrade the department by providing deputies with adequate pay and affording them opportunities to improve their skills through continuing education and training. “As Sheriff, I can make a positive difference regarding proper management of the most important position in parish government. Even with all of our collective problems in Louisiana in general and in Richland, in particular, there is still great hope for our parish because of our abundant resources, and because we are all ready for a direction change.”

“I am not running against anyone. Nor am I running because I need a job. I seek simply to do that which I have preached all of my adult life: offer a return on their investments to the very people who influenced my life and provided me with the education and desire to do that which is the right thing to do.”

“No government is the sacred province of a few hired hands. Far too frequently we have seen government lose touch; political figures become bigger than life; and gaps develop between the courthouse and us.”

Ken Booth

“With equal frequency, we have seen those in government attempt to span those gaps with “Sunshine Bridges’ and roll on. “It is imperative that those in high elective office not only hear what the people are saying, they must listen.” “Men must be decided,” he pointed out, “on what they will not do, and then act with vigor in what they ought to do.”

Ken Booth, Freshman
1958 Rayville High School Yearbook
The Palmetto

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