IDAHO RADIO NEWS
KSRA: Finding missing livestock
Oct 3rd, 2008
Conservative writer Bill Croke wrote about his current stint living in Salmon - and the unique media situation. No Internet at his home. No TV. Just one radio station (no Rush Limbaugh!) - KSRA.
One thing KSRA does well is accounting for the whereabouts of missing livestock. Wandering cows, horses, dogs, etc. “We’ve received a report that four goats are walking down 9th St. So, if you’ve lost your goats, they’re on 9th St.” When horses stray, the report is accompanied by a taped whinnying sound.
The unique thing about KSRA — it stays in tune with what the listeners wants. And while it doesn’t count its revenue in the millions, it does make money. For a town of 3200 it serves it well, and it is fun to listen to. OK .. I am a little bit biased. I grew up in Salmon, my first job was at KSRA, and I still do tech stuff for them when I travel up that way, which I do as often as I can, since I still have property near Salmon, and will probably someday retire there. And if Bill Croke should read this — Bill, take your laptop to Bertams, log into their free WIFI, and enjoy some of the best food in Idaho at the same time.
And, I do get the Salmon paper. It is such a refreshing read compared to the Statesman (which I no longer subscribe to). The little paper in Salmon, like the radio station, gives the people what the people want and need. News that affects them and is of interest to them. Sometimes those of us in the big cities need to look back to the smaller towns and learn a thing or two.
When I worked at KSRA back in the day, any time we heard the fire whistle in town go off the jock on the air then had to tune in to a scanner we kept in the front lobby. We’d listen for the Sheriff’s dispatcher over the scanner and we would have to write down the location of the fire and then go on the air at our earliest convenience to announce where the fire was and to tell people not to follow the fire trucks. Then we’d close the announcement with a tag saying something like…
“This announcement is brought to you by Wally DeBoard Insurance reminding you that insurance is your best protection against fire and property damage…” or something like that.
Oh, and then it went into the log because Wally (God bless him, rest in peace) would then pay the station every time we dropped the tag on the air when we did a fire announcement.
And I did my share of lost dog and cat announcements, someone needs a ride to Missoula and “Have you seen my (insert inanimate object here)?”
Now I know where to advertise the kittens and puppies that people want to give to a good home. I’ll just write to KSRA. lol.
I’m sure those announcements get old for the KSRA staff. But, I think it’s a reflection, and perhaps celebration, of small town America and it’s innocence. It’s what America used to be and some people would like for it to be again.
I have often pondered what would happen if you took true “home town” radio and played it in the big city. The can’t-really-find-a-name-for-it format that often runs like a constant train wreck, the lost and found stuff, the “who died and who had a baby” statistics …. you know the stuff. It would be the laughing stock of the big guys, and the consultants would thumb their noses, but, somehow, I think quite a few might just find it refreshing enough to listen. I will probably never know, because no one has the guts to try it (unless I win the lottery … Oh, wait, if I did that, I would just move to Salmon anyway !!)
Ahh the flashbacks to KRXR in Gooding and KTFI in Twin Falls.
Shop Net, Swap & Shop, Trading Time, Pet Parade, 4-H & FFA contest results, cheerleader bake sales and car washes, chatting it up with each other at shift change (you do my last break with me and I’ll do your first break with you), client interviews with no time limit, no matter how dry & boring.
“So Bob, have you got some great deals going on this weekend over at the car lot?” (Bob nods head) “Great…..and no money down?” (Bob shakes head, crickets chirp)
And of course, spots that reminded you to tell Jim, Jack, John, Tex, Rodney and Connie hi next time you come in. And mention you heard this ad and get 10 cents off your Big Gulp! Tell ‘em Jumpin’ Johnny sent ya.
Good times, good times.
Does anyone remember “Tradio”? It was an on air public auction that aired in the 70’s in the Boise market. What station was it on? My best guesses are KFXD, KGEM, or KSRV, or KCID.
Leo “The Lion” Ebeling at KSRV and Carl Follick and Sam Bass at KCID when it was in Caldwell came closest to having they type of show RDS describes. Lon Dunn and Paul J. at KBOI and K.J. Mac at KGEM would be close as well.
Two things I will always be proud of working at KSRA:
1.) I spun the black circle.
2.) No playlists - I was Jack before there ever was a Jack format.
When the day arrives that I officially become senile, I will be found in the corner of my garage with a control board and a couple CD players. There will be a mic, but there will be no wire coming out of it. Heck, there won’t be any juice going into any piece of equipment. I’ll just be there thinking I’m on the radio wearing my Metallica shirt - no pants - saying over and over “From the banks of the Salmon River, KSRA 92.7 FM!”
Good to hear they know what local still is…
About 20 years ago, I worked at KCLX radio in Colfax Washington… a real time capsule… Before the owner left me alone for the shift, in that antiquated set from an unreleased Twigh Light Zone episode, he told me that if I heard the hospital air raid siren go off on the hill out back to call the hospital and find out why the ambulance was off on a run…. So it did and I did…and just before I cracked the microphone…I did as I was told and ran the sponsorship cart for the local funeral home…. real motivating…..but oh, the joy of local radio….
Tradio ran on 1450 KYET back in the 80’s as well….buster,
Tradio was on the infamous KBRJ … KSRA runs a similar, but better formatted, version called Swap Shop. Offical ID when I was there (1963-’64) — “KSRA 960 Salmon, Idaho, the beauty spot of America”
Thanks for the info on Tradio. It might be fun to test market a Tradio in the Boise market. Maybe have it air once a month or so just to see what would happen now. I doubt it would work, but it might be fun to try.
Don’t forget the daily funeral announcements, Right Doug Raper? “Brought to you by Thomason’s Funeral Home, 549-1234.” And of course our all time favorite: The Evan Slack Livestock Report. “Brought to you by your friends at the Weiser Livestock Auction.” Anybody know if Evan is still around?
Ok, here we go again. The Evan Slack report is alive and well in Salmon, on, you guessed it, KSRA.
Hey Norm, its no fun to tell them about the on air funeral notices unless you let the peanut gallery know why they aired…. You could be dead and buried before the newspapers in the upper country of Midvale, Cambridge, etc printed the notices…. and all your friends would miss your funeral services…. And yes, if memory serves me right Evan still airs on KSRV AM….and last I heard him he still had that generic intro that worked with a personal intro or just a cold start…. Anyone remember John Devon the overnight guy on the old KIZN from the Johnson House….He had a special name for those Evan Slack and Bill Whittam farm shows…He just refered to them as the Pig Reports…
WOW!!! What memories many of you bring back. Many years ago, and I do not remember the name of the owner, the story goes like this. Salmon High School went to State in one of the High School sports. Since, at the time, the A.M. was pre-sunrise/Daylight only….the owner figured how to screw the power output down on the transmitter. He sold advertising and announced that everyone who could not attend the game, could come and listen to the broadcast, LIVE, at the cow pasture his tower was located.
Next morning, the pasture was littered with bear cans and trash. His response…..well you try to do something nice for people and they just pee in your ear. That story, whether true or not always made me laugh.
In this day and age of consultants trying to out Ipod an Ipod….and LOCAL CONTROL being given over to them. KSRA and all the local “YOKELS” should be given medals. They are truly what made RADIO great, and why most of us chose this as our profession.
Hint to the “big boys.” Want to win and win consistently….make it LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL.
Yes I remember the funeral announcements on KWEI. That was the first thing I heard on the station before moving to Weiser, with the terrible music behind them. Those were the days…
Yes. KSRA did “broadcast” the night games to what was probably the first true tailgate party ! The transmitter used back then had what is known as a “dummy antenna” that you could connect in place of the tower for testing purposes when you shouldn’t actually be on the air. There was enough leakage from the dummy that you could hear it for about 1/4 - 1/2 mile on a good car radio. So, they invited folks to come park in the 4 acre lot that the tower was on, and listen to the game. I know they kept doing it, so the trash problem must have been solved somehow. The game was live to the folks in the pasture that evening, and taped and played back the following day for those that did not come out listen the previous evening. This, of course, was only done for out-of-town games. A local game you were expected to go see it (even it was taped an played back the next day).
Not only is Evan Slack on KSRV, so is a new version of Tradio. Matter of fact, with the kind of show Dale does in the morning, and all the local sports etc., KSRV is coming dangerously close to being a real radio station, I miss being a part of it. It’s funny, all the things we bitched about the most back in the day, are now some of our fondest memories. Hey Rocky, I read all your contributions here without falling asleep, that’s an inside joke between me and RDS. I think I miss the jocks the most, in the middle 70’s at KBRJ (950 AM) there was Straight Arrow, John Duane, Bill Bailey, Rocky Smith, Barry Poole and me, and that was just the full timers on a daytime AM. It was bad craziness, but it was fun. In today’s radio that many guys would be running 5 stations and sweating their jobs.
What a joy those memories of KSRA. I was raised on Dave Ainsworth and I’ll never forget the time of the infamous sign off. The AM station, and that’s all we had in the late 60’s, had to sign off the air at about 5:30 in the winter. Our family would be sitting at the table finishing up dinner and we’d hear the standard sign off. The day always ended with the playing of River of No Return. You might remember the tune…..”There is a river sometimes it’s peaceful sometimes its wild and free” it’s from a Marilyn Monroe movie. Anyway typically you’d hear that tune and then the station was off the air. This particular night the song ended and then you heard a crash and some very colorful adjectives which I won’t detail in this writing. Then you heard the phone ring and Dave saying “Hello……What?” Then the air went dead.
Then there was the owner’s brother Blair Smith who wore so many hats ….engineer, mid day guy, public service manager and because of that he wasn’t all too concerned about keeping a tight show. There were so many times you’d be listening to the radio and the record would end and you’d hear the schoo…schoo….schoo sound as the needle hit the label or for 2 or 3 minutes. Then Blair would walk in the studio realize his record had ended while we was fixing some other problem. But that didn’t get Blair too riled up. He’d calmly walk to the turntable lift the needle. Sit down. Put his head phones on then crack the mike …..we referred to it as Blair air.
I started working there in 1977 and I so remember those days when being a jock was a ballet where you’d carefully back track the record so that when the turntable got up to speed it would hit the beginning of the song. You had to lightly hold the vinyl while the turntable spun underneath it….then reach over to turn up the pot….hit your mic pot and mix the music all without some pre-recorded image liner in between.
I even worked there after my daughter was born which was a challenge to run the board and nurse at the same time….okay maybe offering way too much information now.
Thanks for the memories.
Good story Margo…..the fun of running and working at a LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL Radio Station.
I guess what all these posts are suggesting is….stations might have the greatest play lists, the most balsy voiced announcer telling listeners that they play the most music, etc.. However when it comes right down to it…people will ALWAYS migrate to the station that is LOCAL.
A long time ago, before dirt was invented, I was selling Radio Advertising. Seemed like the nemesis was always the Newspaper. I read somewhere the true reason for that….When you are born, your parents look in the Newspaper for your birth announcement. When you achieved “great” things during your K thru 12 grade….you read about it in the Newspaper. When you got engaged and then married, your announcement and ceremony were documented in the newspaper. When you die, your obituary is in the newspaper.
KSRA….apparently is doing all it can to change that. Once again take note consultants and “big time” radio operators. Become the LOCAL RADIO STATION again…..and in my opinion you will have a nice profitable Staion.
This post reminds me of another small town radio station-KSKI AM. Back in the 70’s before the Wood River Valley was “Aspenized” with tourists, “out-of-staters” , etc., KSKI would do the live remote thing. Everyone, I mean everyone would show up to one. I remember, a bank would be giving away money each Saturday in the month of November or December for Christmas. KSKI was there. They also had a remote in front of the old library. Of course, many local citizens were there.
LONG LIVE LOCAL RADIO!
Ah, the good ole days. I too remember KSRA. I grew up “across the hill” in Montana and we would always tune in KSRA when we traveled through Salmon. Later, as a young would-be-television journalist, I would call KSRA and deliver the weather forecast from KIDK. Later, I could always count on KSRA to help us track down football and basketball scores from Salmon, Leadore and Challis.
It was simply: community. Cows and all. I miss it.
I think you can strike a balance and come up with a format that sounds professional even in a small town. Too many think that podunk radio has to sound bad to serve the public, albeit some things are just too hard to change. When I first came to the Magic Valley and took KBAR from music to talk (I am no longer PD of the station), I really stirred up a lot of hate. I will never forget the letters sent to me for “destroying our beautiful community station.” I was called an “M-F’er” for changing Paul Harvey from 6:42 in the morning and again at 7:27 (to 6:30 and 7:30), because it had been that way forever! I got a call from someone telling me that I made them 5 minutes late due to the change and they wanted me to pay for a half hour of their wages! I sent them a $10 check with some choice words!
But I will never forget being crucified for the ultimate sin: nixing the obituaries! How would I know? I never lived in a small town before and thought reading the morning “necrological report” was about as hokey as it could get. Obviously I was wrong, because all of those things are back and the station has a KSRA type format. People seem to love it.
I brought in what I thought were all the proper “radio rules” after working in SLC, Idaho Falls and Tri-Cities, TN. They flew in my face. Oh well! You live and learn!