Students You Should Know: Connor Kenney

"I probably shouldn't be here," said Connor Kenney, general manager of UNI's campus radio station KULT. Not that the sophomore electronic media leadership major doesn't think he's cut out for his position. It's just that a large part of his job involves talking — whether it's managing the three directors or 26 DJs he oversees or hosting KULT's morning radio show — and Kenney has a damaged vocal chord that leaves his throat feeling sore after talking for long periods of time.

Connor Kenney
Kenney hopes to work in radio after he graduates from UNI. He's now general manager of UNI's campus radio station KULT.

More than that, it's a miracle Kenney is even alive. He was born with a heart defect and was immediately flown from his birthplace of Clinton, Iowa, to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital in Iowa City for a 14-hour surgery. "They thought I wasn't going to make it," he said. After a successful surgery, doctors told his parents he would either live a healthy life or need to undergo another surgery later. At 18 months, Kenney went in for the second surgery. That's when his vocal chords were damaged.

However, overcoming such a challenging and emotional experience is what inspires Kenney today. "It's feels really cool how they thought I wasn't going to make it and I'm here now," he said.

Kenney has always loved talking to people and has a passion for storytelling. After getting involved with KULT in his sophomore year, Kenney realized he could channel those passions into radio, and so he developed a new passion. He hopes to work in radio when he graduates and has already done an internship with popular Quad Cities radio station B100.

Kenney's love of radio has also inspired him to improve himself. He enjoys turning on the radio and singing along as loud as he can to build the strength and stamina of his vocal chords. "It's been a huge tool for me not only on the leadership side and learning how to pretty much run a business, but for building myself, my personality and my resume," he said.

While building a future in radio may be especially challenging for Kenney, he has no doubt that he'll be able to succeed. "My dad and my mom have always said, 'If you want to do anything, you just put your mind to it,'" he said. "That gave me the drive to go out and find my own adventures and do my own things."