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50 Stories for 50 Years: Alumna Charliese Jenkins King

Murray State University

Charliese Jenkins King came to Murray State in 1968.  She wanted to be a speech language pathologist.

“I got there and they had just opened the facilities for the radio TV building," said King. “I fell in love with the idea of it and decided during freshman orientation that I was going to become a television major.”

King’s father was not pleased.

“Growing up in segregated South, there were no people who did what I wanted to do,” said King. “My father forced my hand and told me I needed to get a degree I can do something with.”

The compromise was a bachelors in radio television and a Master’s Degree in Communication.

King is one of a handful of African Americans who worked at WKMS in its infancy. King's parents were from Paris Tennessee and the fact alone that she attended Murray State University was something unattainable a generation before her.

“Obviously, it was great pride for my parents for me to get accepted into Murray State when they couldn't go onto Murray State campus,” said King. During my time there, I felt liberated and focused and I wanted to become the best me that I can become.”

Credit Murray State University.
Charliese was one of a few African American students participating in the broadcasting club at Murray State in 1972.

Charliese had a music program and hosted an array of shows including a fashion show. She moved on to a television internship and really enjoyed herself, but when it came to obtaining a full time job her hurdles were insurmountable. 

“There weren’t many people hiring African-American people on camera at all, and there were definitely no people who were writing for television which is what I wanted to do," said King.

But fast forward now to 2020 after a successful career in Human Resources Charliese reflects on her time at WKMS and Murray State fondly.

“I was a shy, introverted person who had some life experiences that could've jaded me,” said King. “At Murray State, I found my voice and I became the person I am today. I became an advocate, a counselor, a coach, a cheerleader- and I try to get people to own your space and what you like to do and you can make it happen."

Share your memories of WKMS here as we strive to tell 50 stories of WKMS’ 50 years of history. You can also call us and leave us a birthday greeting at 270-809-2070.

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