James W. Kennedy, 65; Television Producer and Writer at KCBS and KCET Started ‘Life & Times’

Times Staff Writer

James Walden “Jim” Kennedy, a former producer and writer for television stations KCBS and KCET, where he started the news program “Life & Times,” has died. He was 65.

Kennedy died Oct. 5 at his home in Palo Alto of liver cancer brought on by hepatitis C, said his daughter, Laura Kennedy.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Oct. 21, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday October 21, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Kennedy obituary -- The obituary of James Walden “Jim” Kennedy in the Oct. 13 California section said that he had been publisher, managing editor and chief salesman for Clover Park Press. Kennedy was managing editor.

Although he spent much of his life in Santa Monica, Kennedy moved to Palo Alto in 1995 and earned a second master’s degree, in social work from San Jose State University. He became a hospice counselor on death and dying.

A graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, Kennedy earned a master of fine arts degree in film production from UCLA and spent 1968 to 1979 as an independent producer, writer and editor of about 40 documentaries.


He joined KCBS-TV Channel 2 in 1979 as a producer and writer for the news department’s special projects and investigative unit. He later became executive producer of the station’s documentary and public affairs unit.

Kennedy moved to KCET-TV Channel 28, Los Angeles’ Public Broadcast System outlet, in early 1986 as director of news and current affairs. He soon became executive producer of two new public affairs shows: “7:30" and “California Stories.”

When “Life & Times” was launched in 1992, Kennedy served as its executive producer. The concept for the Monday-through-Friday public affairs program, he told The Times then, was to create a flexible and affordable format for long and short pieces as well as discussions of current affairs. Included were studio discussions of recent news events and profiles of Southern Californians

“It’s an interesting combination of things we have been wanting to do for a while,” he said. “Some [subjects] need five minutes; some things need 20 minutes. Some need the studio.”


During his television career, Kennedy won half a dozen Emmys for public affairs programs and in 1982 shared a Columbia-Dupont Journalism Award for his work in the KCBS investigations unit.

In 1990, Kennedy became the publisher, managing editor and chief salesman for Clover Park Press, a small publishing company he started with his former wife of 30 years, Geraldine.

Their first book was “From the Center of the Earth: Stories Out of the Peace Corps.” It featured short articles of fiction and nonfiction by former Peace Corps volunteers. The couple met when both were teaching in the Peace Corps in Liberia in 1962.

In addition to his daughter, Kennedy is survived by his second wife, Suzanne Abel; two sons, Peter and Alex; a stepdaughter, Marina Vidor; his mother, Nancy Kennedy; two sisters, Katy and Marianna Kennedy; and two grandchildren.


A memorial service is pending. For details, contact the family by e-mail at

The family has asked that any donations be made to the Friends of Liberia, 4300 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20011, or to Pathways Home Health & Hospice, 585 N. Mary Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085.