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5 questions with Jan Harrison

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, at 12 a.m.

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Volunteering has always been part of Jan Harrison’s 35-year radio career, but last year the KFXJ, 104.5-FM, morning co-host found herself leading a citywide campaign to change the name of the airport.

“I think our city is undervalued by people who don’t live here,” Harrison said.

She said changing the name of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport to Dwight D. Eisenhower International Airport could help with that.

With cities such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Harrison said, “You say, ‘I flew into Reagan,’ or you say, ‘I flew into O’Hare.’ 

For Newark, N.J., though, she said, no one says, “I flew into Liberty.”

Harrison said that’s “because Liberty doesn’t have a flesh-and-blood person in the name, and therefore I don’t think it has the same retention.”

Q. What gave you the idea to champion renaming the airport?

A. It started with the fact that I’ve always felt the appearance of our airport is not indicative of the beauty and sophistication of our town. … And that’s important because we have people who come here on business or are thinking about relocation, and if that’s the first impression … that may be difficult to overcome. And then I thought what name would be appropriate for our airport … and lend itself more to the sophistication of the city or the vibe of the city if you will.

Q. Why Eisenhower?

A. Because if you look at world-renowned leaders that people … would already have a positive impression of, at the top of that list is Eisenhower.

Q. Is being an advocate what you expected?

A. It’s more difficult than I expected, but it’s been a really (positive) experience for me. … I find that most people agree that Eisenhower would be a good name for the airport, and if someone initially does not understand the thinking, and I visit with them, they generally come around and say, “Yeah, I do think that would be a good idea.”

Q. Is it true you’re already thinking of your next campaign?

A. I think I’m going to tackle something with even less controversy. … I would like to see a Macy’s in Wichita. We once had a great Macy’s store, and I would love to see one here again. … I’m a little put off by the fact that they just closed stores in Kansas. I could say my next thing is to get some stores here that people want but we don’t have.

Q. What’s one thing few people know about you?

A. I talk to myself, and I’m not ashamed of it.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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