NPT is sad to announce the death of Ken Simington, a longtime NPT staff member and executive producer of Tennessee Crossroads. Simington died at his home last night after a fall and is survived by his wife Janice, two sons and grandchildren.
Simington’s broadcast career began at small radio stations in the northeast part of his home state of Arkansas. He earned a Master of Visual Arts from Southern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV from Arkansas State University. Simington joined NPT (then WDCN) back in 1979 and worked his way through the ranks from studio supervisor to senior producer/director. He most recently served as a governor of NATAS Nashville/Midsouth Regional Emmys.
Simington’s affiliation with Tennessee Crossroads began at the show’s launch in October 1987, when he worked as a segment producer; he became the show’s executive producer a few years later. Simington was a consummate professional; he also had a terrific sense of humor, a knack for storytelling and a green thumb when it came to homegrown tomatoes.
Simington received 16 Regional Emmy nominations for Director and Magazine Programs – and won once for Living On: Tennesseans Remembering the Holocaust (2006). But he was perhaps proudest of Tennessee Crossroads and its consistently high ratings and popularity. Now in its 29th season, Crossroads remains the most watched locally produced program in the entire PBS system. Tennessee Crossroads is carried by public television stations across Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.
“Ken Simington was the granddaddy of NPT’s production staff and had the distinct honor of being the celebrated producer of Tennessee Crossroads,” said Beth Curley, NPT’s president and CEO. “Ken loved every minute of his work, which viewers could witness every week. Ken had a long and distinguished career at NPT and was beloved by all of our staff. He was a unique talent who is already sorely missed by everyone at NPT.”
“He was a brother, a friend, a partner,” said Joe Elmore, Tennessee Crossroads’ longtime host. “We were like [Dean] Martin and [Jerry] Lewis – and Ken was Lewis.”