Rockwell Smith 

Currently I am the Radio Engineering Manager for the Journal Broadcast Group Boise, Idaho radio cluster, which consists of 6 stations. I've been involved in radio in one form or another since 1962, and have been with Journal since 2000.  (I retired from Journal December 31, 2013)

I was born in Salmon , Idaho. When I was 8 years old my family bought 7 acres 14 miles from town, and we spent two summers there, living in town during the winter months. 2 years later they bought a ranch near the 7 acres, and not too many years later we lived on the ranch full time. 

Radio was a fascination of mine as long as I can remember. Salmon had no local station at the time, and I marveled at how those distant signals could be heard so clearly so far away. When I was about 10 I met a local ham operator that helped peak my interest even more. I saved up my allowance for many months and in 1958 I purchased a used NC-57B communications receiver. As an added incentive, the ham I bought it from gave me a 1952 edition of the ARRL Radio Amateur's Handbook. That book became my master reference and guide for many many years. 

A year later in 1959, KSRA signed on in Salmon , and my focus moved from ham radio to wanting to be involved in broadcasting. However, there was not much need for a 12 year old at the radio station. It was about this same time I became a loyal listener ofKOMA out of Oklahoma City.

A few years later while still a freshman in high school, I became involved in the "Radio Pow Wow" organization at school. It was group of kids that gathered school and community news, and we had 15 minutes a week on the local station. I soon became themain voice of the "Pow Wow". 

KSRA employed one part-timer, a student, that worked from 3:30 in the afternoon until they signed off at 6pm Monday thru Friday, and all day Sunday (6am - 6pm). In 1963 this position opened up and I became employed at my first real radio job at the age of 16. 

A family move a year later took me to Billings, Montana, where I worked at KBMY during my senior year in high school. This transition was almost traumatic for me. I had probably learned most of what could be learned in Salmon , and thought I was prettywell on my way to knowing it all (don't most teens feel this way?). But, moving from a town of 2800 to a city of over 80,000 things were a little different. Within the first week on the job I realized I had better get back in the learning mode, and FAST. 

In many ways I owe my career to the engineer at KBMY . I had a pretty good foundation but still had a lot to learn. Ted Hildebrand was the CE at KBMY , and he was an excellent teacher. I soon learned one thing - If I asked Ted a question, I had better have enough time to get the entire answer. He wasn't satisfied until he felt I understood what he was trying to convey. 

And so I was off to a future in radio. I went on to college at the University of Puget Sound where I attended from 1965 until graduation in 1969. While in college I helped get a campus station started at UPS . From our humble beginnings this later became KUPS-FM , a non-com affiliated with UPS. During my Junior and Senior years I worked at KASY in Auburn, Washington. Also while in college, I spent a few months with the Q & A book and in my Junior year took the FCC exam and received my First Class ticket. 

While my real interest was broadcast engineering, it was hard to walk into an established station and take over an engineering position. So up until I was out of college, I was mostly on-air. After graduation I took a full time position at KLIX in Twin Falls , Idahowhere I did take on the CE position, and still did an air shift. I was in Twin for a year, and heard that KBMY in Billings was seeking an Engineer. Ted had left and gone on to other things, and they had not been very successful in replacing him. I was accepted back in Billings, and spent the next 3 1/2 years there. While there, I was not only the Engineer but also filled the shoes of Operations Manager, Program Director, Music Director and did an air shift. 

So far I had only worked with AM stations. Interest in FM was starting to grow, and I wanted to expand my experience accordingly. KBMY management at that time did not feel adding an FM was practical, so I began looking for other places where I might be able to continue my growth. In the fall of 1973 I was hired by KBBK in Boise, Idaho. They had an FM and a CP to move it from the site on their AM tower in the valley to a nearby mountaintop. 

In the 30+ years I have been in the Boise market, I have seen the population double, and the growth of radio was practically exponential. Deer Point, the mountaintop where I started by installing what was then the third FM on that site has grown to becomeone of the most radio & TV congested sites in the country. And radio has come from all live with 45's, LP's, & carts to our computer automated stations of today. It has been a real interesting career, and I'm looking forward to the changes looming on the horizoneven still. I still did on-air work into the mid 80's, and then shifted to just the engineering. I've assisted in the construction of many stations in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and Oregon while based in Boise. Now, with Journal and 6 stations, I stay busy enough in one place. 

There is much more to tell, but that is the brief bio.  You can find out more about me on my web page at http://www.engineer-exchange.com