Mr. TV Pioneer Dies

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TV Celebrity Al Radka Leaves a Great Legacy

Al Radka past away Thursday. Many of you don’t know who Al Radka is. Many of you never heard of “Mr. Fresno”, or even care. Al radka was from Los Angeles when his family moved to central California. If Radka would have stayed in LA he would have been a “Mr. LA”. This still does not diminish the importance of Al, who began in the infancy of Television in the early 50’s, and contributed extensively to its popularity. To give you some background,

Al Radka was a Far Western Conference guard for the Bulldog Gridders, under Jimmie Bradshaw, for three consecutive seasons in 1937, 1938, and 1939.He spent so much of his time in his opponents' backfields that he was given the moniker "Raider Al" and was named as one the guards on the FSC all-time football team. Serving his apprenticeship in the line at the Alhambra High School, first as a center, later as a guard, Radka prepared himself for a career which continued under the coaching of Bob McNeish, who coached at Pasadena City college. Then he moved to FSC where Bradshaw's line coach Roy Niswander initiated the Red-Haired Radka in the aches and pains of college blocking.Radka graduated from Fresno State in 1941. He was Student Body President n 1940-1941; member of Blue Key, National Men's Honorary Fraternity; member of Alpha Phi Gamma, National Journalism Fraternity; Varsity Society and the Sigma Epsilon Fraternity.

He wrote college sports for the Fresno Bee under Ed Orman. He also wrote, produced, directed and appeared in three annual FSC's Spring Swing Musicals, during 1939 through 1941.Radka is a past president of the Fresno Junior Chamber of Commerce, past chairman of the Raisin Bowl game, past chairman of the Fresno Junior Chamber of Commerce State Convention, winner of the Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Key and the Kenneth L. Hampton Award. He was named the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 1963. The Fresno Hot Stove League has grown under Radka's guidance to one of the largest vital organizations of Fresno. He is married to the former Alma May Dutton, a native daughter of Fresno. Radka enlisted in the Air Corps in 1942 as a Private, discharged as a Captain in 1946 and was a reserve Major for many years. In the early 1950’s pioneered early television at KFSN (Then KFRE) TV and was also on KFRE radio. After retiring from Channel 30 and KFRE in 1981, he along with Alma started their own advertising agency, "Al Radka Productions” and was one of the most successful pitchmen of his time, having clients and friends from San Franciso to LA.

I first met Radka when I was 9 years old. My father worked as a stage director at channel 30 in Fresno, CA. I had grown up in television stations since I was from LA, and my father was a staff member at KTTV in Los Angeles. Radka grabbed me and put me on a show with my father whom was his guest since he was “Butch” in the original “Little Rascals”. After that Al showcased me on three UCP telethons and eventually pushed for me to be a co-host on the news magazine for youngsters, “Valley Mainstreet”. Al was a good friend, though we lost touch in recent years. I only know that he was my friend and an endearing part of my youth that helped me along the way and strengthened my career and stability in the showbusiness world. Relics of our childhood fade away, but never die. Radka is one name that needs to be recognized as a pioneer in television, and one who was very important in the entertainment industry, and to me.

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