In Memoriam: J.K. Martin

J.K. Martin, a Drake University graduate who had been news director at Iowa radio stations KCOB in Newton and KBUR in Burlington, died Monday. The following information was released by the Iowa Broadcast News Association on Tuesday morning: Former IBNA president, board member and Jack Shelley Award recipient J.K. Martin has died. Authorities found him dead in his Burlington home Monday.  His wife Amy is in critical condition at a Burlington hospital. The Burlington Hawk Eye reports that authorities initially suspected carbon monoxide poisoning but now are unsure of the cause of death. Police say they do not suspect foul play. More details are available at the Burlington Hawk Eye web site.

J.K. was a fixture at IBNA conventions and he won hundreds of IBNA and AP news awards over the past three decades.  Martin's colleagues in the field of journalism seem at a loss to explain their reaction to this week's news.  I shall turn to the words of Robert Louis Stevenson:  "Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Kristin McHugh-Johnston says

    Kay…I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am stunned and saddened by the sudden loss of JK. I will never forget how he kept me grounded and freely gave advice back during my KWPC days…even though we were technically rivals in Southeast Iowa news. His passion for news will be missed, but not forgotten.

  2. J-K will be missed. I first met him at an IBNA convention a few years ago. His infectious laugh and wit, combined with a passion for broadcast excellance made him a consumate professional and a solid human being.
    Heaven is filled with souls who have committed their lives to broadcasting and made a difference to our world. Now J-K is among them. Rest in peace.
    Ric Hanson
    News Director/KJAN – Atlantic

  3. John Kent, You’ll alway be loved.

  4. Mark Saylor says

    JK was indeed one of a kind. I, like Ric, met JK a few years back at an IBNA convention. He was quick with a joke and all around a great guy. I remember he complimented me –within minutes of meeting me– telling me that I put some pretty good stuff on the network. He impressed upon me that more people should contribute when they have local newsrooms and not something out of a can. I was always impressed with JK as he could remember people and events from passed years. He will most definitely be missed at conventions and has been missed as being a newsman which he was very passionate about. God Bless JK we will miss you!
    Mark Saylor
    Former News Director KSIB Creston

  5. I am without a doubt – shocked. JK Martin took me under his wing years ago, when I joined him as his Assistant News Director at KBUR. He was a broadcast journalist through and through. I write this with tears in my eyes…he truly had a passion for news, and taught me so much. He will be missed. He is missed.