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

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


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