We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Keener and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tom, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Listening the needs and wants of our patrons is a critical factor to our success. My family has been in show biz for over 100 years. My great grandmother Ida Chitwood operated a vaudeville troupe and father Ronald Keener was a radio DJ during the golden years of radio. Ida built the Ole Mill Inn at Fair Park for the 1936 Texas Centennial, and she encouraged me to “sniff” out talent in obscure venues. They imbued me with the importance of listening to the guests. My opinions are not nearly as important as those of the guests. They stressed the importance of watching the audience and observe if they are nodding off or on the edge of their chairs. Above all, interact with the audience and ask for feedback, but be prepared for the answers. A child proposed one of our most popular gigs.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Providing outstanding preforming and visual artists to our patrons is a critical factor. Meeting the intellectual and scholarly needs of our citizens is another key factor. Our library has presented over a dozen New York Times Bestsellers, including a future Oscar winner. In addition, a Tuskegee Airman, World War Two veterans, including a WW2 WAVE, a member of Mercury 13, have graced our stage.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Nature trails along Rowlett Creek, including Connemara. Also, the stone dam along Cottonwood Creek is the only stone dam in the state of Texas that was associated with the railroad that is still standing. Visit the Allen Heritage Center, Allen Historic Village for a stroll back to another era and attend free Allen Public Library programs.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Friends of the Allen Public Library and the citizens of Allen are to be congratulated for supporting their library and scholarship, visual and performing arts. Also, a huge thank you to the Allen Heritage Guild for supporting historic preservation. Allen City Television (ACTV) has enabled us to bring our programs live and through the social media to the entire world. An unprecedented thirty million viewers have watched our programs! An enthusiastic team effort and community spirit are most evident and are invaluable factors for our success.

Website: www.allenlibrary.org

Image Credits
David Small

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