held its February 29th, 2008 Public Meeting at Smoky Mountain Pizza on Parkcenter Blvd. in Boise. 17 people attended and heard a great program on KGEM-AM and the television station that never was – KGEM-TV, which had applied for Channel 9 and the call letters KTVI.
After a great lunch and interesting conversation, President Art Gregory played some fun old KGEM jingles and promos from the late 1950s and early 1960s
These included the intro to John Runkle Jr.’s Rock n’ Roll Show where he billed himself as “The World’s Tallest Disc Jockey.” John even appeared on the tape announcing a 60’s rock instrumental by the Marketts, and doing the legal ID “This K-G-E-M Boise and Nampa Idaho, K-GEM! Idaho’s Most Powerful Radio Station!”
We then heard a KGEM sign-on and legal ID from 1972, as well as both the sign-on, and sign-off for KCID-AM in Caldwell, now KGEM’s “sister station.”
KCID exchanged programming with KGEM last year, adopting the Original Hits” Nostalgia format that KGEM has been running since the late 1980s. KGEM is now running the 60s Oldies format that KCID had been carrying since Journal acquired KCID AM few years ago.
Member R.W. Egelston then took the mic and explained that it was actually he who took the aerial photos used in KGEM’s 1951 application to 10,000 watts. R.W. started at KGEM in 1946. RW had been a photographer and was comfortable around planes, but did not realize that one of the shots required the old World War II “open cockpit” plane to turn sideways with R.W. shooting straight down! R.R. also explained that KGEM’s first transmitter site was also on the Bench near Denton and Morris Hill. The station started with 250 watts on 1340 KC with studios on the 2nd floor of the Owyhee Hotel. He told several other great stories as to why the Cassia Street location was selected and the perils involved in building it.
Tim Hogue told of listening to John Runkle in August of 1962 and learning that Marilyn Monroe had passed away, and spoke of KGEM broadcasting live from the Howdy Partner.
Art Gregory then told the story of when KGEM Manager Bob Weisenburger fired every single employee at the station! He then shut the station off the air, called the owners in Salt Lake City and told them what he’d done. Employees who wanted to get hired back then had to report back to the station at 8:00 A.M. on Monday, and some did and were rehired. Art also told several other great KGEM stories.
Member Clint Tinsley then explained how he first got into radio in Boise and worked for both KGEM at KYME at the same time! Clint also spoke of the “K-GEM Spotlight,” the old World War II Military Searchlight that KGEM owned and took to all kinds of events.
Frank Aden Jr, who is the State’s foremost authority on the early history of Idaho television, told the complete story of KGEM-TV. Frank covered from when KGEM first obtained the 2nd TV construction permit in the state, to when KGEM’ abandoned Channel 9 in favor of buying KFXD’s Channel 6 construction permit. Nothing ever happened with building Channel 6, and KGEM’s permit expired. In late 1958, Roger Hagadone put on a 2nd Channel 6, KCIX-TV, which only lasted until early 1960. The current Channel 6, KITC, which is now KIVI-TV, went on the air in 1974. Member Clint Tinsley (above) was one of their first engineers.
It was a great meeting and was enjoyed by all. We hope to be able to tour the Cassia Street transmitter site in the coming months when the weather
warms up. Below is a list of those attending the meeting. Watch our website http://www.historyofidahobroadcasting.org for audio excepts of the meeting.
Pictured left to right: Al Hale, Art Gregory, Bob Ahmann, R.W. Egelston, Marty Holtman, Frank Aden Jr. standing in front of the late 1940s-Early 1950s Gates Studioette Control Board used by Marty Martin at the KGEM Nampa Studios.
Here is a list of all who attended.