Passed away early Wednesday December 12, 2012
at his home in Nampa.
Susan Chapman, Del’s daughter-in-law, and wife of his oldest son “P.J”
Chapman wrote this touching tribute to her father-in-law. It speaks for itself.
Del’s son “P.J” Chapman phoned the Foundation on Wednesday afternoon to tell us the news. Del had telephoned Foundation President Art Gregory several weeks ago to tell him that his health was failing and that final arrangements had been made with a local funeral home. At that time, Del indicated he did not want a formal funeral service, but instead, preferred a party where rock and roll music would be played! He asked Art Gregory to be the disc jockey for the event, which Art said he was honored to do.
We will keep you informed as to when and where the “Celebration of Life” for Del will be.
We wish to send our sincere condolences to Chris, his wife of 50 years, and to the entire Chapman family.
In the meantime, we offer this overview of Del’s remarkable life.
Del Chapman was from Denver, Colorado and was discharged from the United States Marine Corps on January 4, 1954. His initial plan was to enroll in a technical school and become a radio/television repair technician. But on a friend’s advice, Del enrolled at the California Institute of Radio & Television (CIRT) in Hollywood, California in the mid 1950s. It was there he got his First Class License as well as his first on-air job, which was playing classical music on the old KFWB-FM. Upon graduation Del landed a job in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. After being “let go” in Glenwood Springs for playing Elvis Presley records, Del was staying at his parent’s house in Denver when he replied to a help-wanted ad at KWIK-AM Pocatello. They needed a Chief Engineer and a nighttime disc-jockey to play rock and roll. Del took the job but candidly admits he was not fond of living in Pocatello.
In the fall of 1959, Jack Link from KIDO in Boise called and offered him a job, and Del and his family soon made the move to Boise. At that time, Del was married to his first wife Joyce, and had two sons Mark and Johnny. Del moved into the evening slot at, which worked great for him. That way, he could book bands by day, and do his KIDO air shift at night. Among the bands that Del managed were the Fabulous Chancellors, the Mystics (featuring former Idaho Statesman columnist Tim Woodward), and the Naturals, featuring fellow disc jockey Bob Swanson. The Chancellors recorded several records, the first of which, “Diamond in the Sky,” which went to number one in Boise. After getting divorced from his first wife, Del met Chris, who he married on February 17, 1962. Dick McGarvin was Del’s best man at the wedding.
In 1963, Del and Chris started the Trocadero Ballroom on Overland across from the Hillcrest Golf Course. The Chancellors, Dick Cates and Chessmen, and the Mystics all played there and were managed by Del! The club was part of Dick Clark’s “Caravan of Stars” so they were on the circuit for a number of big name acts that traveled across the country playing “one-night-stands” for Dick Clark. Among the acts that played the Troc were Paul Revere and the Raiders. The club lasted until 1966 when the problems with kids drinking outside the club prompted the Boise City Council to shut it down.
When Johnny Lytle was tragically killed on Del’s 3rd wedding anniversary (February 17, 1965), Jim Schroeder, the Manager of KYME called Del and offered him the job of Program Director. KYME was indeed an instant success, but Del says he got started to get “itchy feet.” In late 1968 Del received an offer to move to KACI-AM in The Dalles, Oregon. Del took over as Program Director and was supposed to become Station Manager, but none of the later promises ever happened. So Del accepted a job at KOIL-AM in Omaha, Nebraska, arriving on Halloween night on 1969. But Del ended up getting a bad case of asthma while living in Omaha, and was always in fear for his job, as KOIL’s owner Don Burden had a red “hotline” phone in the control room – and if it rang; you were done. It was time to move, so Del sent tapes to stations all across the West including KXLY in Spokane where he was soon hired as Program Director and morning announcer. Once in Spokane, Del hired former KFXD announcer Dave Ferdinand and the two of them worked together on KXLY-TV hosting “Dialing for Dollars” Movies. KXLY-AM was “middle of the road” and Del was not wild about the music. So when a new Program Director was brought in to make KXLY even more conservative, Del happily transferred to KXLY-TV as a booth announcer and on-camera host of the station’s afternoon movie segments.
Del and Chris bought a house in Spokane and a few months later were blessed with a 3 month old baby girl whom they adopted and named Heather. About a year later, Chris discovered she was pregnant, and 9 months later, Lance, their first son, was born on October 5th, 1972. Two years later, a second son, Patrick Jude (“P.J.”) was born. While on KXLY-TV in Spokane, Del brought in his new baby girl “Heather” to appear with him on television, and she soon became known as “Baby Pebbles.” Del left KXLY and sold Life Insurance for Penn Life until another opportunity presented itself. Ron Bailie, owner of the Ron Bailie School of Broadcast, asked Del and Chris to start a new Broadcast School in Spokane. He was then asked to help start a Portland school, and soon Bailie asked Del and Chris to move to Portland and run both operations from there. Once in Portland, Del was asked become Educational Director for all of Ron’s schools. After several years of living in Portland, Bailie then asked Del and Chris to move to California and run his San Francisco school. So Del and Chris and their family moved to Foster City in the early 1980s, where Del also ran the San Jose School. After several years there, Ron asked Del to move to the company headquarters in Seattle. After leaving Ron Bailie and working for several other companies, Del and Chris decided to sell their home in Bothell (a suburb of Seattle) and move back to Boise.
Del and Chris then both became real estate agents with Metropolitan Real Estate in Boise. The Chapman’s then entered the property management business and started Chapman Properties. They have since sold the business to their son “P.J.” Chapman and his wife Susan, who continue to operate the business. Upon returning to Boise, Del did part time radio work for both KBOI and KIDO. However, his “dream job” was in the early 1990s when he worked for “KOOL 104.3” (KLTB-FM) doing a Saturday Night oldies show. It was during this time that Del and Chris’ eldest son, Lance, tragically passed away.
A few years ago, Del and Chris moved to a small acreage outside of Nampa where Chris enjoyed riding horses with her grandkids. Del was very active in our Foundation and was honored at a special meeting in July of 2009 at Hillcrest Plaza (former home of KYME), a KIDO “Live-Five” reunion in Seattle in 2010, and a live broadcast from the original KIDO Vista Avenue studios in May of 2011. Most recently, Del attended both of our 2012 meetings which previewed and celebrated the release of the new book “KIDO – Boise’s First Radio Station,” which he is prominently featured in.
You can read about the above meetings, see photos, and hear the actual meeting audio, featuring Del’s voice, by clicking on the following links:
God Bless you Chris, Heather, and P.J., and all of your families. We share in mourning the loss of a great man, but are glad for the time we had with Del. He was the “second” member of Foundation as was a true pioneer of both rock and roll radio and live rock music in the Treasure Valley, and we will miss him dearly.
“Keep Smiling Tiger…
it’ll make everyone wonder
what you’ve been up to.”
Del Chapman says his famous “Keep Smiling Tiger” sign-off over the intro to the song “More than Yesterday” by the Spiral Staircase. Dedicated, at Del’s request, to Chris Chapman, his wife and the “love of his life” for over 50 years.