Home/Place with Ken Boddie

Home/Place is a Company Innovation project conceived by Jennifer Lin, designed to create a collaborative dialogue between artists and audience. The project began with an invitation for members of the community to submit images and text in response to three prompts: The home I was born to, The road I traveled, and The home I made. We are sharing these submissions, the foundational components of the project, as Home/Place continues into the next phase of development.

This submission is from Ken Boddie, co-anchor of “KOIN 6 News This Morning” every weekday. Ken also produces a weekly segment called “Where We Live,” which gives Portland viewers the backstory of local landmarks, events, street names, and historical figures.


THE HOME I WAS BORN TO

Although I was born in Philadelphia, my boyhood home was Rochester, New York. It was a corporate town, with Xerox, Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and a couple of General Motors plants, as well as the Eastman School of Music, The Rochester School for the Deaf, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Rochester was a stop on the Underground Railroad, as slaves hid in private homes to escape to the North. Frederick Douglass lived there. So did Susan B. Anthony. I lived in a black and Puerto Rican neighborhood, with Italian, Irish and Polish pretty much rounding out the town’s ethnic mix. It was a great place to grow up, but the winters were too brutal for me. I was determined to get out.

THE ROAD I TRAVELED

As an athlete (track and basketball), and a good student at a Catholic high school, I reaped the benefits of the Affirmative Action years of the 1970’s, being recruited to several Ivy League schools. I chose Cornell because it was close to home, and I could get in-state grants to attend. Cornell gave me the confidence to know I could compete in the world. It also got me started in broadcasting, as I dabbled in campus radio (WHCU), and caught the broad- casting bug. I decided to pursue broadcasting after college, rather than going to law school. I think it worked out.

THE HOME I MADE

Portland, Oregon was never on my radar, until my mom, step-dad and sister moved to Gresham in 1975. My mother’s husband was an engineer, and his company brought him to Oregon. I came out in 1982, after a year’s stint in Trinidad (I followed a girl), and started working as a producer at KPTV-12. KOIN came calling 3 years later. Oregon is a beautiful place, but it also has a history of animus toward African-Americans. I’ve had numerous negative encounters over the years, where my race was a factor. However, it has been balanced by the incredible friendships and professional growth I’ve experienced in the Rose City. Portland is and always will be home.


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