Home Back Issues August 2011 Medford's unique TV market reaches a critical crossroad

Medford's unique TV market reaches a critical crossroad

| Print |  Email
Articles - August 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Article Index
Medford's unique TV market reaches a critical crossroad
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Medford's Broadcasting History
Behind the TV screens

Medford's Broadcasting History

 

 

The broadcast career of William Smullin, founder of California Oregon Broadcasting Inc., began with a single radio station in Eureka, Calif., in 1933. When television began to catch on after World War II, Smullin quickly expanded his burgeoning broadcast empire. With a partner, in 1953 he launched KBES in Medford, the predecessor to today’s KOBI, as well as KIEM-TV in Eureka.

Smullin’s VHF portfolio grew as he added television and radio stations throughout Central and Southern Oregon and Northern California. He diversified his interests with a microwave network and cable networks. He and other early Medford broadcast pioneers, including rival Ray Johnson, were known for their innovations. They had to be creative, given the geographical challenges that confronted them. Smullin’s vast web of cable and microwave systems, and his relay stations in smaller towns, boosted his primary stations’ signals and carried programming from other major markets to his viewers on either side of the Oregon-California border.

Johnson was just as determined as Smullin to make his mark in the fledgling television field. Johnson entered the market in 1961 with the predecessor to KTVL, setting off a fierce competitive battle with Smullin’s broadcast empire. “When my dad ran the station, we weren’t even allowed to play with the children of the other station’s employees.” Patsy Smullin says.

Yet, the two media pioneers were friends and would often discuss business. “Ray and Dad had great respect for each other and would occasionally meet on mountain tops and discuss global ‘future’ communication issues,” she says.

When KDRV, owned by Eugene-based Chambers Communications, entered the fray in 1984, viewers from Lakeview to Mt. Shasta could enjoy complete free TV programming, and choose from three very competitive local news operations based in Medford for their local news. The market continued to attract players, with Fox’s KMVU, Telemundo, and Public Broadcasting joining the mix.

Ray Johnson eventually sold out, but Smullin continued to build up his media assets. Daughter Patsy would become the only one of his five children to stick with the business that she has run since 1984.

 



 

Comments   

 
Mike Gantenbein
-1 #1 Crossroads?Mike Gantenbein 2011-07-27 13:50:21
Great overview of the TV market in Medford - but I'm not sure that the market has arrived at some sort of "crossroads". It is in flux and will continue to be as the internet continues to offer new avenues for content developers (e.g. networks) to distribute their products. However, flux is normal in this market - there were only two TV stations in the market when I first moved here.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Mike Nelson
+1 #2 The News Czar Wears New ClothesMike Nelson 2011-08-01 10:03:34
Little Hatfield is mistaken if he thinks his current staff and limited knowledge of emerging technology is going to keep KDRV on top. Oprah is gone, Jeopardy will not last, and Mr. Hat will soon find himself "number two" when tech-savvy KTVL and KOBI merge.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #3 adminGuest 2013-03-20 03:06:37
This is the direction of Television now..
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

Books Rule

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JON BELL

Powell's stays relevant in the digital age.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper reporters move into brand journalism.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS