August 28, 2008 Meeting
Audio of this meeting is now available. It has been broken down into 6 segments. Click on the segment you wish to listen to.
Segment 3 -- KFXD-FM Sign on January 1975 (21 min.)
Segment 4 -- Television ID's & Discussion (24 min.)
Segment 5 -- Discussion & Adjournment (16 min.)
Segment 6 -- Tour of Journal Radio Facilites (16 min.)
A good crowd attended the July 28, 2008 Meeting of the History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation held in the Conference Room of Journal Broadcast Group's Boise Radio stations. Host Rockwell Smith had an array of tempting snacks and cold beverages to offer the group as we settled in to learn some great history of Journal's 6 Boise radio stations.
Members attending included President Art Gregory, Vice President Frank Aden Jr., Webmaster and Meeting Host Rockwell Smith, R.W. Egelston, Larry Chase, Gil Rose Jr., Al Hale, Barry Lewis, Harold Homeier, Tip Goss, Bill Hatch, Shawn Kimmell, and Clint Tinsley.
Guests attending included Jackie Hatch, wife of Member William R, Hatch of Meridian.
President Art Gregory started off the meeting by introducing everyone and then turned the meeting over to Journal's Chief Radio Engineer Rockwell Smith. Rockwell had been to the KGEM-AM Cassia Street transmitter site earlier in the day and shot some digital photographs of the building. The site houses KGEM's transmitter and is also used for storage at this time.
The lights were then dimmed and using a projector, Rockwell showed us some very interesting images, starting with the 3 tower directional array built in the late 1940s. Member R.W. Egelston said he got his First Class license and then worked for KIDO-AM as a transmitter engineer. This was in the early to the mid 1940s, and KIDO was 2,500 watts at 1350 kc and later 1380 kc on the dial. Their nighttime power was 1,000 watts. R.W. then moved north where he finished college at The University of Idaho and worked for Washington State University. Upon graduation, R.W. returned to Boise and taught Algebra and Physics for Boise Junior College. According to R.W., KGEM went on the air in 1946 with 250 watts on 1340 kc with studios located in the Owyhee Hotel. While still teaching at BJC, he applied for work at KGEM. Eventually, they hired him to help build their new 10,000 watt facility on 1140 kc., which they had immediately started applying for after putting the 1340 facility on the air. Once the power increase was granted, KGEM obtained the Cassia street site and immediately started constructing the new station.
The original KGEM transmitter site for 250 watts at 1340 kc was located at the corner of Roosevelt and Denton streets across Morris Hill Cemetery. That land was traded to a contractor who then built the KGEM building on Cassia. New residential houses were then built right across the street, and while one was being painted, R.W. says one of the new KGEM towers fell over and hit it! R.W. wasn't there, but he heard the 3 foot tall "top" beacon went through the roof and just missed a man painting the interior! KIDO's engineer Jimmy Johntz was driving by at the time, saw what had happened, and stopped to help get KGEM back on the air using a wire for the antenna! Yes, the tower that fell over was actually on the air at the time! R.W. says he was out doing field measurements when the accident happened, but when he returned to the old transmitter site, there was a note on door saying one of the new towers had faller over!
Rockwell then showed the photos of KGEM's Cassia facilities and explained what we were seeing.
The photographs included:
3 Tower Directional Array
Exterior shot of the building
DX10 Solid State Transmitter (in use now)
McMartin 10KW Transmitter (standby transmitter)
KJOT-FM Main Studio (and KGEM's original studio)
Tape Cartridge, CD, and 45 RPM storage shelves
Passage way to the 1960s Civil Defense Bomb Shelter
Bomb Shelter interior
Inside the original 1940s phasing cabinet for the directional antenna system (Still in use)
Close up of the phaser adjustor knob
Original Bomb Shelter Generator from the 60s. (Still in use today)
After viewing the slide show, which was narrated by Rockwell, we reviewed some of the Foundation's photos and history of KGEM. Among them was a rare newspaper ad from the 50s featuring a very young Dan Smede, who was a KGEM announcer at the time. The ad featured a picture of Dan and said "girls...he's single!
Member Gil Rose then played a tape from March 1967 featuring the 2nd Miss K-Gem, Bernice Hays! The Boise announcer introduced her by saying "This is KGEM Boise...serving the great Northwest...the time is 8:00 O'clock and time to go to Nampa for the "Powder Puff Express and your hostess, Miss K-GEM!"
After a train whistle and the song "Petticoat Junction" (the theme from the television show) Bernice came on and said
"and a very pleasant good evening to you, it's 8:00 O'clock in Treasure Valley and that means it's time for the Power Puff Express. Miss K-Gem sitting in right now for the next two hours, and we're going to be entertaining you with lots of country music. So we do hope you'll stay along with us. Let's begin the show this evening with Mr. Stonewall Jackson and "Help Stamp Out Loneliness." (music begins)!
We all marveled that directly out the 2nd floor window of the Journal Conference room was the "Howdy Partner" Restaurant where the original Miss K-Gem (Clara Hoofnagle) broadcast from a small glass-windowed booth atop the restaurant. The booth is gone, but the main building is still intact and located directly across the street and was clearly visible from the window! (The building is currently a Mexican restaurant).
Gil then played a short segment from an "Amos and Andy" Show featured on a 1982 special narrated by Johnny Carson.
Art then played a 1972 tape of Journal station KCID-AM featuring the famous "Mornin' Neighbor!" intro by Announcer Sam Bass. We then heard Sam's legal ID for "Twin Cities Radio" and finally the sign-off featuring the Four Freshmen singing "And So It's Over...where did the moments go? Oh it's over...we hope you liked the show!" Program Director Sam Bass also narrated this classic sign off, which finally ended with the Four Freshmen bringing things to a close by singing "so long...so long...so l-o-n-g!" (big finish - carrier off)!
Rocky said that KCID-AM is now running a Broadcast Electronics solid state 1 KW transmitter that works great, except when there is thunder or lightning. The transmitter site is still located on KCID Road in Caldwell. Rocky did get the dusty old Gates 1 KW transmitter up and running at about 600 watts and 80% modulation when there was failure with the BE a few years ago. But then, after Rocky actually attempted to clean it up to use as a back-up transmitter, it blew up and has never run again!
We then heard a 1972 KGEM sign-on, a legal ID, and then intro to John Runkle's 1962 rock and roll show. John did his show from a booth (a rather T-A-L-L booth) located at the Frostop Drive-Inn Restaurant at the corner of Broadway and Boise Avenue in Boise.
We then heard the actual sign-on of KFXD-FM (now Journal's 94.9 KRVB "The River") on their first day on the air which was in early January in 1975. Fred Novak introduced KFXD President Wayne Cornills who then told us all about the new "XD-FM" and their new "Hit Parade" format. The station was automated and their taped music format was supplied on reel-to-reel by Drake Chenault.
We then heard a series of television station IDs, sign-on and sign offs from 1972 featuring Clint Bellows, Lon Dunn, and Bill Chapman on KTVB-TV. On KBOI-TV (Channel 2), Paul J. Schneider did the sign-off, and Bob Asbury read the sign-on LIVE. Bob then gave the time, and introduced Captain Kangaroo....all live on mic. We also heard part of the actual sign-on of KAID Channel 4 which took place on December 31, 1971.
After a brief discussion of Foundation business we adjourned for the station tour. Rockwell Smith and Harold Homeier showed everyone the master control racks, and then we saw all 6 of Journal's on-air studios. It is an impressive technical facility and is superbly laid out and built.
After the tour we enjoyed some more snacks and informal conversation and the meeting adjourned about 9:45.
Our thanks to Bob Rosenthal and Rick Kemp for allowing us to have the meeting at Journal and for supplying the delicious snacks and soft drinks. And of course, many thanks to Webmaster Rockwell Smith, Journal's Chief Engineer for Radio, for hosting the event and for producing the excellent slide show on KGEM's Cassia Street facility.
Stay tuned for details about our September Meeting!