Blast from the Past!
The History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation’s “KIDO Blast from the Past” was held over two days on May 20-21, 2011 at 6 different locations! The idea for the event came from former KIDO Radio and Television Manager, Jack Link, after a similar, but smaller scale event was held in Seattle on May 21, 2010, exactly one year earlier. For a complete audio report on the 2010 “Seattle Connection” listen here.
In Seattle, we played portions of a newly recorded telephone interview and a “greeting” from 94 year old Vern Moore, who we had just made contact with. You can listen to Vern’s audio greeting here which runs 6:37.
After the meeting was over, Jack Link suggested we needed to do this again “on this side of the grass.” Taking Jack’s suggestion seriously, Foundation President Art Gregory started working on the 2011 Boise event immediately. After contacting Peak Broadcasting Vice President and General Manager Kevin Godwin and gaining his total support for our plans, a meeting was set up with Peak Broadcasting Senior Account Executives Lucas Babin and Cindee Scholfield, who together with Art Gregory, spearheaded and organized the extraordinary 2 days of events you are about to read about. Foundation Vice President Frank Aden Jr., Board Member and Treasurer Rockwell Smith, and co-webmaster Clint Tinsley also contributed to the success of the events in important ways. In addition, many other Foundation Members and friends of the Foundation contributed time and energy to make this event happen, and we will recognize them as we go.
The first event was an informal lunch in the KTVB Channel 7 on-air studios followed tour of the KTVB technical and newsroom facilities. Due to limited room in the on-air television studio this event was for invited guests only. The specific purpose of this tour was to allow the three members of the KIDO “Live Five” who also worked at KTVB in the 1950s, 60’s, and 70’s, the opportunity to see what the studios look like now, and the how KTVB runs it’s on-air operation now, vs. when they worked there. Dick McGarvin worked for KTVB in late 50s and early 60s as both a booth announcer, and as the host of “Teen Telehop,” a live in-studio dance show featuring local teens dancing to records played by Dick McGarvin. Dick brought with him from Los Angeles, some 8×10” black & white photos of the show which he showed to the KTVB staff who were there to welcome us, including President and General Manager Doug Armstrong, Executive News Director Jim Gilchriest, and Sally Craven, Director of Community Service. KTVB General Sales Manager Kristi Edmunds was all there to say hello to the guests. Also attending was former 1960’s KTVB booth announcer Jim Blossey from Seattle, and former KTVB News Anchor Larry Taylor from Meridian. Larry worked at KTVB from 1975-1980. Others attending, included former KIDO radio announcers Del Chapman and Mike Lesh, and Art Gregory, Frank Aden Jr., and Clint Tinsley from the Foundation. Former radio and television newsman Bill Hatch, who a member of the Foundation was there, as well as Sarah Artis who was graciously assisting the Foundation that day with the event. Sarah’s brother, Andy Artis was KTVB’s Business Manager for many years, and now teachers college as fulltime professor. President Doug Armstrong first addressed the group and welcomed us to the studios, telling us a little about how he started with KTVB. Doug is one of just 3 General Managers that Channel 7 has ever had, starting with Walter Wagstaff from 1953-1956 and then Bob Krueger who was General Manager until Doug took over in the early 1990s. Despite changes in ownership from King Broadcasting to providence Journal, to Belo, the present owners of KTVB, Doug Armstrong has one of the longest tenures of managing a television station in Idaho broadcasting history. After watching the first half of the KTVB Noon News featuring News Anchor Scott Evans and Meteorologist Larry Gebbert, we received a fabulous tour of the control room, technical facilities, and the newsroom, meeting Assignment Editor Lisa Chavez. The KTVB staff was glad to see their old friend and mentor Larry Taylor, and Early Evening News Anchor Dee Sarton came out to personally say goodbye to us. It should be noted that the “real” celebrity showing up at KTVB was Del Chapman’s wife, Chris, who has worked closely with President Doug Armstrong to bring in motivational speaker Milton Creagh to Boise. Just coincidentally, Chris showed up at KTVB during our visit and got to hello to Del and others our group. Thanks to Doug Armstrong and Channel 7 for sponsoring the lunch, providing the tour, and for joining the History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation as our newest Corporate Member!
The next stop was Peak Broadcasting on Park Boulevard where the above group was immediately ushered in to the main KIDO studios to record a 30 minute public affair show called “Idaho Insights.” This special edition, hosted by Foundation Member Bill Hatch, was a 30 minute show featuring a discussion with the “Live Five.” Bill asked them what it was like to be part of KIDO and Boise radio in the 1960s, as well as asking them for their observations about the “state of the radio industry” as it exists now. The show aired on Sunday morning May 22, 2011 on both 580 KIDO, and 630 KIDO. The show turned out great and we will hopefully have a link to the audio from KIDO that you can download and listen to soon. We wish to thank Kevin Godwin, Jason Wilmot, Dave Burnett, and all of the Peak Broadcasting staff for giving us the opportunity to do this show. Special thanks to Bill Hatch for his excellent job in hosting the program, and to all of the “Live Five” for agreeing to share their experiences and insights with the KIDO listening audience.
The next event was a public tour of the studios of Peak Broadcasting, and the control rooms of their 6 stations which included KIDO-AM, KFXD-AM, KCIX-FM, KSAS-FM, KXLT-FM, and KAWO-FM. The tour was hosted KAWO-FM. The tour was hosted by Peak’s Chief Engineer Lee Eichelberger and was attended by Frank Aden Jr., Clint Tinsley, Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, Larry Taylor, Mike Lesh, Katlin Cauffman of Citadel, Steve Wade, Al Hale, Jon Adamson, Bill Hatch, and Sarah Artis. Among the other things the group learned about, was the sophisticated digital music and commercial playback system used by all six stations, and the backup power systems that keep all six stations on the air in the event of a power failure. The tour lasted about 40 minutes, and then those who wanted to, were soon caravanning to the group’s next destination: the original KIDO-TV studio and transmitter site built in 1953!
The next event was a public tour of the first KIDO-TV studio and transmitter site located at the top of Crestline Drive in the North Boise foothills. Most of the Live Five made the drive “up the hill” to the old site. The present owners of the land (where the studios were once located) were thrilled to learn more about the historical nature of their property. Television, as we know it, started in their backyard in 1953. We acknowledge that KFXD-TV did make it on the air first, on June 18th – 24 days prior to KIDO-TV. However, no “live” images were transmitted by KFXD-TV; just test patterns, slides, and black & white films. Idaho’s first actual “live” television broadcast took place at 2:00 P.M. on July 12, 1953 when Vern Moore stepped in front of the camera and said the first words spoken on Idaho television from the Crestline Drive site. While the building and tower are long gone, the original road to the building is still there, and with the owner’s permission, we were able to drive our rental van right up to the “pad” site which carved out of the hillside in 1953. According to newspaper reports, ground was broken for the new building on Wednesday February 4, 1953, with Program Director Jack Link being there for the ceremonies! As we stood on the ground where the studios and tower once stood we could clearly see why KIDO thought it was good location for a television station; you can see much of Boise from that site. However looming to the north was Shafer Butte – still with snow on it on May 20th – so if KIDO’s site from the top of Crestline Drive was high – Deer Point was a lot higher. But when KIDO television signed on in July of 1953 – they were Idaho’s only television station, the KBOI’s tower on Deer Point had not been constructed yet. Our thanks to present the owners of site for allowing us to visit it, and to all those who were there, including; Art Gregory, Frank Aden Jr., Clint Tinsley, Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, Larry Taylor, Mike Lesh, Al Hale, Steve Wade, Jon Adamson, Taylor McConnaughey, and his father Doug McConnaughey, both of KBOI-AM.
The next event was a public tour of the 2nd KIDO radio transmitter site located at 1010 Owyhee Street at home of Jenny Sternling, daughter of Vera Sternling who was married to Don Cederstrom for 44 years. When we arrived, Jenny was there to greet us and showed us the “garden shed” that once housed the KIDO transmitter. Engineer Clint Tinsley quickly confirmed from pictures of the inside and outside of the building that this was indeed the transmitter building, as the original concrete pedestal is still there! The home itself was built by Kiddo and Georgia Phillips in 1930, with the small building in the back being used to house the transmitter. Behind the small building were two large “twin” towers made of wood with a wire stretched between the two of them. These were used as KIDO’s main transmitter site from 1930 to 1933 until a windstorm blew them down, and they were replaced by a larger single tower. Vern Moore started his career at KIDO as an engineer in the fall of 1935 at this very site, which was then relocated a year later in the fall of 1936 to Wiley Lane. At that time, a power increase was also granted to 2,500 watts day, and 1,000 watts night. Joining us for this leg of the tour were Art Gregory, Frank Aden Jr., Clint Tinsley, Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, Larry Taylor, Mike Lesh, Al Hale, Steve Wade, Jon Adamson, Andy and Linda Enrico, and R.W. Egelston, who worked as a transmitter engineer at the Wiley Lane site! We didn’t stay long at Jenny’s house as we were due at the KIDO transmitter site which replaced the Wiley Lane site.
The next event was a public tour of the present 630 KIDO transmitter site located at Cloverdale and Hubbard roads in Southwest Boise. KIDO moved to that site in March of 1951 and still uses it today for 630 AM (KFXD). Joining us for this tour was Art Gregory, Frank Aden Jr., Clint Tinsley, Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, Jon Adamson, Andy and Linda Enrico, and R.W. Egelston who worked as a transmitter engineer at site too in the early 1950s! The tour was hosted by Peak’s Chief Engineer Lee Eichelberger who showed us around, including the bomb shelter and record library! The building houses 4 transmitters, only two of which are in use. They include the digital 5,000 watt 630 transmitter and the 15,000 watt solid state transmitter used by 730-AM KBSU (formerly KYME). The other two rigs included the 5,000 watt Collins transmitter Western Broadcasting purchased to replace the original 1951 RCA transmitter, and another old RCA rig Chief Engineer Lee Eichelberger purchased as a back-up rig from Centralia, Washington that he believes was originally used at KJR in Seattle. Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, and Del Chapman all worked in that building as announcers, and say the control room that housed the board and turntables is now gone. However, they showed us where it was originally located, which was in the front of the building on the right side of the main door. We also took lots of pictures, both inside and outside with Jim, Dick, and Del, the “three amigos” who worked here as Disc Jockeys from 1959-1960 until the new studios at 1528 Vista were completed in the spring of 1960, and modern “remote control” equipment was installed eliminating the need for an operator holding a “First Phone” to be on site at all times.
The final tour for Friday night was of the former KIDO Owyhee Plaza Studios. KIDO was located there from 1968-2002, a record 34 years! During that time, KIDO changed owners 5 times, and the facilities were changed and a expanded a lot from their original 1968 design. In fact, most of us who had worked there didn’t even recognize the place! However, the same hallway that led to KIDO’s impressive main entrance is still here, as well as the Men’s and Women’s rest rooms; so with a little imagination, we were able to walk through it and visualize where things were, including the control rooms and offices. The back elevator is there and opens to the small room with the locking door that leads into the office space that was once KIDO. And while it appears some of the office walls have been moved, and others torn down completely, the basic space is still there, as well as the original windows, which are all located in the same place. During the dinner that evening, we discussed the fact the Owyhee Plaza has housed many radio stations including KFFB in the early 1920s, KFXD’s Boise studios in the 1930s and 1940s, KGEM in 1946, and KIDO-AM and KIDQ-FM, as well as KHEZ/KARO/KSAS from 1969-2002. The view is spectacular from there, and the facilities perfect for a radio station, so who know? Maybe someday, the Owyhee Plaza will again be the site of a group of Boise radio stations.
The final event for Friday night was a dinner at the Owyhee Plaza. Attending the dinner was Art Gregory, Frank Aden Jr., Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, Larry Taylor and his wife Joyce, Mike Lesh, Linda and Andy Enrico, Steve Wade, Vee Cederstrom, Al Hale, Jon Adamson, and Bill and Jackie Hatch. A Special Thanks to KBOI-Television for sponsoring the dinner and providing the room, as well as rooms for our two out of town guests! Thank you General Manager Eric Jordan and everyone at Channel 2! The food was delicious and the company fabulous. Dick McGarvin did a toast to KIDO and to the History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation for bringing us all together!
The final event of KIDO’s Blast from the Past” was held Saturday May 21st sponsored by Peak Broadcasting, and included an open house, a hosted luncheon, and a live broadcast from the old Vista studios in the Hoppie Building! From 1960 through 1968 KIDO’s studios and offices were located at 1528 Vista. Today that space is home to Idaho Music Academy, owned by Music Instructor LuAnn Fife, who teaches piano and guitar lessons there. However on May 21st thanks to the History of Idaho Broadcasting and Peak Broadcasting, 630 KIDO was once again broadcasting live from this site, at least for one historic hour!
Those attending the luncheon included Art Gregory, Frank Aden Jr., Clint Tinsley, Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, Larry Taylor, Mike Lesh, Andy Enrico, Linda Enrico, Vee Cederstrom, David Hagen, Steve Wade, Al Hale, Mady Schmidt, Frances Ellsworth, Larry Newton, Dennis Masnfield, Lucas Babin, Cindee Scholfield, Kevin Godwin, Ryan Doremus, Larry Church, Tom Raffetto, Josh (Tom Raffetto’s Assistant), Jon Adamson, Helen Gregory, LuAnn Fife, Marty Holtman, Patty McGarvin, Jim McGarvin, Sarah Artis, Jennifer Lesh, Richard Greenup, and Carol Greenup.
The attendees began arriving about 10:30 A.M. and visited with each other and the members of the Live Five. Then, after some opening comments by President Art Gregory, lunch was served at about 11:30, which was provided free of charge by Peak Broadcasting. After lunch, anticipation was beginning to build for the live broadcast, as Peak’s expert technical crew, headed by Tom Rafetto made the final preparations. With Live Five seated in the front window of what was once the former KIDO control room, the broadcast begin with a disclaimer, which was read live by Larry Taylor: “The following is a special History of Idaho Broadcasting presentation, and is not part of Sports 630’s regular programming.” Dick McGarvin then read the original sign-on announcement just as he did in 1959 and 1960, ending the announcement with the words “today is May 21st…1960!” After that, we played one of many audio clips, the first of which was a wonderful long-form KIDO jingle written and recorded by Gib and Jeannie Hochstrasser’s Music Ads studio. Larry Taylor then opened the show and introduced Jack Link, who joined us via telephone from Seattle, and the rest of the “Live Five.”
Larry then announced that the broadcast was dedicated to Jimmy Johntz, Vern Moore, and Don Cederstom, all of who left us this past year. A moment of silence followed in their memory.
The rest of the live broadcast went fast as Jack Link, Dick McGarvin, Jim Blossey, Del Chapman, and Mike Lesh chatted with Larry Taylor and traded funny stories and clever quips! A number of old commercials were also played, as well as a few recorded stories and historic on-air appearances.
As the broadcast came to a close, Larry asked all on the panel what they have been doing since they all left KIDO. The broadcast ended with Larry thanking Peak Broadcasting and everyone who made the past two days events possible. Finally the hour ended with the playing of the National Anthem, which was how all radio television signed-off the air back in the 1960s. The version of the National Anthem that was played was the same one used by KIDO back in the 1950s. It was taken from a small reel to reel tape and came from Vern Moore’s collection of tapes, that were recently brought down to Boise from Coeur d’Alene after Vern’s passing.
A complete high quality recording of the show was made, and will soon be available on line for you to enjoy. Be sure to come back for the recordings and pictures that will be added along with any updates.