Medford's unique TV market reaches a critical crossroad

| Print |  Email
Articles - August 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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
 
 
Guest
0 #2 adminGuest 2013-03-20 03:06:37
This is the direction of Television now..
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

Celestial Eats

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER AND EILEEN GARVIN

A power lunch at Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar.


Read more...

Change at the pump?

The Latest
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
001thumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.


Read more...

The Good Hacker

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY CHRIS HIGGINS

As digital security breaches skyrocket, a cybersleuth everyman takes center stage.


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

Energy Stream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


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