KTPK's Marlena signing off after 41 years behind the mic

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) Marlena Adkison has spent the past forty-plus years playing country music, but now she says it's time for something new.

"I'm going to turn 63 later this year and I decided that's a good time to travel. I have a little money in the bank and decided 41 years of my life is enough," said Marlena.

The 2007 Kansas Country Music Hall of Fame inductee says there is a lot of work behind the scenes that she won't miss, but there's a lot of other things she will.

"The music I can turn on at anytime, but the people. There's been a lot of interesting people and a lot of different places, and the activities are always fun, but it will be nice to be able to sleep in late."

"The technology has changed drastically. It's gotten to the point where it's challenging to me now. I'm kind of glad to be leaving that part behind."

Marlena joined the KTPK staff shortly after graduating from K-State in 1976, and quickly worked her way up the station ladder. In the mid-80s, station management promoted her to program director and host of KTPK's morning show with Lynn Higbee, where the two became very close friends.

Their daily morning broadcast was a staple in the Capital City for ten years, until it came to an abrupt end one spring day at an east Topeka cafe.

"So, he went to a few garage sales and stopped in there after lunch. He was sitting there eating when he had a stroke and passed away," she recalled.

Marlena returned to the airwaves the following day to relay the tragic news.

Marlena's time as a Country Disc Jockey also afforded her the chance to meet and greet many stars as they rolled through town, including a guy by the name of Garth Brooks.

"He made sure everyone got an autograph, and that everyone's picture was signed -- even if he had to spend two hours doing it," she said.

As you can imagine, Garth is just one of a long list of country music artists Marlena has met, interviewed, and even entertained.

"Sawyer Brown is a lot of fun. They like to party. I actually took them to Remington's one time while they were in town," she said.

Over the years, Marlena's shaken the hands of Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Brooks and Dunn, Toby Keith, Vince Gill, John Denver and the Legendary George Strait.

The list of artists she's met goes much longer, but one in particular stands out as her favorite.

"Pam Tillis is very, very nice. She's at the top of my list."

Marlena says what makes her most happy about retirement is the behind the scenes stresses she will get to leave behind. As worry goes away in her professional life, a new battle is on the horizon.

"I was diagnosed with dementia last fall. I have the early stages of it, so it's mostly my short term memory -- I'll likely forget I did this interview with you -- it's not long term memory or anything, it's just the beginning," she said.

Friday comes the end of an unprecedented career - 41 years at one station.