KWAY – The Short History of Forest Grove Radio

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  • #31
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    On Saturday July 29, 1950 it was announced that Irving V. Schmidtke had received an FCC construction permit earlier in the week to build a radio station in Forest Grove on 1570 kilocycles with the daytime power of 250 watts. Mr. Schmidtke would build the studio and office in his radio repair shop “Smitty’s Radio Clinic” which was in a corrugated metal building, located on Sunset Drive (Banks Hwy., Oregon 47, between 26th & Willamina Ave’s., Route 2, Box 59). The location at the time was never assigned a numbered address. Mr. Schmidtke would build the tower in back of the shop on property near his home. It was estimated the station would cost $10,000 to build and he planned to be on the air in about three months.

    On November 16, 1950 KFGR Forest Grove, Oregon began operation. KFGR used a Raytheon RA-250 transmitter and Raytheon turntables in the studio. Irving Vincent Schmidtke became General Manager & Chief Engineer, with wife Eleanor Maria Schmidtke, Woman’s Director; Robert Roberts, Program Director & Promotions Manager; Ralph Sanders, News Director & Commercial Manager. KFGR had Associated Press wire service. KFGR calls stood for Forest Grove Radio. KFGR broadcast from sunrise to sunset. Phone number was: 5791. On March 1, 1951 KFGR began running ads for a new Program Director / Promotions Manager.

    By December 1951 Irving V. Schmidtke was Owner, General Manager, Chief Engineer & Commercial Manager; Lois V. Olsen, Program Director; Allen E. Hoffard, News Director & Sports Director; Gene D. Jacobson, Farm Director; Michael G. Carney, Promotions Manager & KFGR’s phone number was: 6091. By Spring 1952 Robert Peel was Program Director, Commercial Manager & Public Service Director with Gene D. Jacobson, Music Director & Chief Announcer; Stanton D. “Stan” Bennett (formerly on KOAC, KOOS CE, KBND CE, KFAR CE, KOVR-TV) Consulting Engineer. On June 21, 1952 KFGR began airing “Rays of Healing” Tuesday through Sunday’s at 6:45pm with Rev. Willie Mae Lingenfelder of the “Rays of Healing Center” at 732 N.E. Jessup St. in Portland. By October 1952 KFGR slogan: “The Forest Grove Station.”

    By December 1952 Irving V. Schmidtke added Program Director to his other titles: Owner, General Manager, Chief Engineer & Commercial Manager; Ralph Keyser (later on KBND, KLBM, KBCH CE, KOOS, KMCM) Farm Director. On February 23, 1953 KFGR debuted “Daily Hymn Time” Monday through Saturday’s at 12:15pm with Rev. Orville Poulin, Paster of “Highway Chapel” at Canyon Rd. & Mill St. in Beaverton. By Spring 1953 John L. Elder was Commercial Manager. On July 4, 1953 KFGR broadcast live coverage of the Hillsboro “Happy Days” celebration, parade and Oregon Governor, Paul Patterson’s address at 1:00pm. KRTV, aka KUIK wouldn’t sign on until 1954.

    On August 10, 1953 KFGR became KRWC. Calls stood for Radio Washington County. By September 1953 Allen E. Hoffard was Program Director, News Director, Public Service Director, Commercial Manager & Promotions Manager. By December 1953 Charles Tucker was Farm Director & James “Jim” Forsythe, Sports Director. In December 1953 Buzz Masters (later on KGW) was the new disc jockey. On April 23, 1954 it was reported that Irving Schmidtke had applied to the FCC for a power increase from 250 watts to 1kw. This move might have been taken because of a new planned Hillsboro station with 1kw, which was approved the following month. (FCC C.P. on 7-7-54). By Spring 1954 James Forsythe switched to Commercial Manager.

    By September 1954 Jack White (formerly on KLIQ) was hosting “Hits For Housewife’s” 9:10am to Noon weekdays. Then he was hosting “Club 1570” 1:00pm to 4:00pm weekdays. By December 1954 Robert L. “Jack” White was Program Director; Allen E. Hoffard (later KHOQ CM) News Director; Al Williams, Sports Director; Clarence S. “Sid” or “Si” Sherman, Farm Director & Commercial Manager & Robert Kingsley, Promotions Manager. By Spring 1955 Robert Kingsley was Public Service Director.

    In the June 4, 1955 Billboard Mag. VOX JOX column: KRWC’s Sid Sherman writes his own commercials and they’re so good that the station has actually had listeners “request” they be played on the show. The spots are two to three-minute situation comedy-type segs which put Sherman in various locales to make zany pitches for the sponsors. The taped personalized commercials have paid off big for these sponsors.

    On Sepember 1, 1955 KRWC increased power from 250 watts to 1kw with a new transmitter (make & model unknown). By December 1955 Frederick I. “Fred” Egger was Program Director; Eleanor M. Schmidtke, News Director as well as Woman’s Director & Promotions Manager; John A. Knipe, Farm Director; Rodney F. “Rod” Woita, Sports Director & Clarence S. “Sid” or “Si” Sherman, Commercial Manager & Promotions Manager. Between February 23 & 25, 1956 KRWC broadcast live from the window of “London’s Department Store at Pacific & Main Sts. in Forest Grove for the 10th Annual “All-Northwest Barbershop Ballad Contest” highlighting the City’s Gay Nineties Festival.

    By December 1956 Irving V. Schmidtke (later KHOQ/KHOK GM/CE) was Commercial Manager once again, with his other titles, Owner, General Manager & Chief Engineer; son Fred I. Schmidtke (later KHOQ PD, KHOK CM) Program Director & Sports Director; Harold Warling, Farm Director & Elinore Lee, Production Manager.

    On January 4, 1958 KRWC changed to what was described as a Cultural-Religious format. Ad: “Christian Radio Station, KRWC-1570Kcs. Christian Programming, Christian Staff, Gospel Programs, News, Good Music.” KRWC new call slogan: “Keep Right With Christ.” Reverend F. Demcy Mylar, a Baptist Minister, became Station Manager; Robert W. Ball, Jr., Commercial Manager; Jerry W. Johnson (later on KPAM/KPFM, KPDQ AM/FM PD) Program Director & staff announcer; Paul Baker, News Director; Albert “Al” Cherry (later on KPAM/KPFM) Promotions Manager & staff announcer; Keith T. Forney, Chief Engineer. On April 1, 1958 Paul Baker (later on KPAM/KPFM) became Chief Announcer. By July 1958 KRWC phone number was: ELgin 7-2144. In August 1958 KRWC slogan: “The Station of Inspiration.”

    On September 1, 1958 KRWC was purchased by Christian Broadcasting Co. (Rev. F. Demcy Mylar, President, 50%; Doctor Robert M. Kines, 50%) for $50,000. Mr. Schmidtke retained ownership of the studio/transmitter property. Robert W. Ball, Jr. (later KPAM/KPFM GM, KWFS GM, KPDQ AM/FM VP/GM) became General Manager as well as Commercial Manager & Theodore B. “Ted” Hanberg, Chief Engineer. Also on September 1, 1958 KRWC debuted “Petition Time” weekday mornings at 11:00am.

    On October 1, 1958 KRWC studios were moved to a mobile prefabricated unit and placed on property at 2740 Pacific Ave. Mr. Schmidtke was now using the old studios for his other business he had operated at the same time, Smitty’s Radio & Television Clinic.

    Meanwhile on December 23, 1958 it was announced that Irving V. Schmidtke & wife Eleanor M. Schmidtke doing business as Twin Cities Broadcasting Co. had applied for a construction permit to build a new radio station on 860kc with 250 watts daytime in Forest Grove. This application was not approved.

    On December 29, 1958 KRWC began weekdays at 7:45am “Peace For Today” with Rev. Kenneth M. Haystead, Pastor of First Assembly of God. By February 1959 Christian News Analyst, Rev. Claude G. Pike (later on KGON-1520) of the “Evangelical United Brethern Church” was heard daily at 12:05pm with commentary on national and international news.

    On April 23, 1959 Rev. F. Demcy Mylar, KRWC President, with Emil Boesch & Dr. William J. Ashley-Cole purchased KPAM & KPFM under the name Gospel Broadcasting Co. for $200,000. (FCC approval: 5-20-59; transfer of control: 6-1-59). Mr. Boesch was a Multnomah County Reserve Deputy and Dr. Ashley-Cole, a Minister at St. Johns 1st Baptist Church. Some KRWC national Christian programming would move to its new sister stations.

    On July 15, 1959 the FCC ordered KPAM & KPFM returned to its previous owner, pending a hearing on protest from KPDQ which said it had provided exclusive religious programs in the Portland market and it would be competitively injured by KRWC’s acquisition of KPAM & KPFM. Rev. Mylar: “I don’t think this will affect our programming, at the present time. There is still another course of action. Naturally, we (KRWC) were the first station with the type of (Christian) programming we had. As you know, KPDQ started religious programming after we did. Of course we are not going to give up without a fight. KRWC couldn’t do the job of Christian programming adequately to reach the Portland audience.”

    On August 6, 1959 it was announced KRWC was up for sale and the sale must be completed by August 20, 1959. On September 1, 1959 the FCC held a hearing on the KPAM & KPFM sale to Gospel Broadcasting Co. and KPDQ won.

    On September 4, 1959 it was announced KRWC was purchased by Triple G Broadcasting Co. (Lester L. Gould, President; wife Dorothy R. Gould, Secretary-Treasurer; Leroy A. Garr (a lawyer) & Esther L. Plotkin; each 25%) for $47,500. (FCC approval: 11-8-59). Lester L. Gould (Director of Greater Carolinas TV & Radio Industries, Inc.) became General Manager; Patrick W. Larkin & wife Jean S. Larkin became Co-Station Managers with Patrick W. Larkin, Commercial Manager; Jean S. Larkin, Program Director & Chief Engineer; Rev. Coy Willard “Bill” Wingo, News Director.

    On December 1, 1959 KRWC became KGGG. Calls stood for the first three owners last names. Slogans: “K-triple-G, The Voice of The Valley.” & “The Station With A Smile At The Top of Your Dial.” Steve Hanson remembers: “I worked at KGGG in 1959-60 and briefly in ’61 while a communications major at Pacific University. The station during that time had a format that was called “block programming”. Different day parts throughout the day had a different program title. The station signed on each morning at 6am with a program titled: “Coffee, Toast & Tunes”. It was followed by “The Woman’s Page” and after that came a program of Broadway music. Afternoons were “Teen Time”. Each program had a pre-recorded open and close on a huge reel-to-reel tape recording.”

    “I started at K-triple-G, which is how the station was referred, hosting an hour long kids program on Saturday morning. Soon I was working all day on air Saturday and Sunday. Shortly after this I started signing the station on the air. One additional program used to run on Saturday which was called “Talent Time”. I had one regular Country singer, but most of the time I just played music and asked for talent for the following week. I’ll never forget when The Ventures, who had just released “Walk, Don’t Run” came by the station. I played their record and intimated they were actually live in the studio. The studio was very small as it was located with the offices in a single wide mobile home.” Here’s a picture of KGGG: http://www.farwestmedia.net/KGGG.htm

    On March 4, 1960 it was announced Triple G Broadcasting Co. had applied to the FCC to change KGGG city of license from Forest Grove to Vancouver, WA and increase power from 1kw to 5kw on 1570KHz. At the time the FCC had an application from Gordon A. Rogers for a 1kw station on 1550KHz in Vancouver, as well. Ultimately the KGGG application was not granted and the KGAR application was, on 1-10-62.

    On August 19, 1960, Triple G Broadcasting Co. filed an application with the FCC to transfer KGGG control to Crawford Broadcasting Co. On October 10, 1960 at 7:00am, Crawford Broadcasting Co. took control, purchasing KGGG for $65,000. (Doctor Percy B. Crawford, President & son, Donald B. Crawford, Corporate G.M.). Crawford Broadcasting owned: WMUZ (FM) Detroit MI, KDMI (FM) Des Moines IA, WYCA (FM) Hammond IN, WMFP (FM) Fort Lauderdale FL, WDAC (FM) Lancaster PA & WPCA FM-TV Philadelphia, PA. KGGG slogan: “Radio With A Spiritual Emphasis.”

    On October 31, 1960 just 21 days after Crawford Broadcasting Co. took control of KGGG, Doctor Percy Bartininaus Crawford died at age 58 of a heart attack. Dr. Crawford’s wife, Ruth M. Crawford became Executrix of the Estate. Crawford’s company would later re-enter the Portland market, purchasing KLVS [KPHP] in 1992 and KUPL AM [KKPZ] in 1995.

    Meanwhile on November 4, 1960 KGON-1520 host and former KRWC Christian News Analyst, Rev. Claude G. Pike with six other members of the “Oregon Committee for Honest Politics” were arrested and indicted on charges of “political criminal libel” for statements against Democratic State Senator, Monroe Sweetland. Rev. Pike: “The trial will make public the true charactor of Monroe Sweetland. He has no defence but to try to get us in jail.” On 9-18-61 the indictments were dismissed “in the interests of justice.”

    On January 1, 1961 KGGG bacame KWAY. Calls stood for Washington And Yamhill counties. By Spring 1961 R.E. Anderson was General Manager & Rev. Coy Willard “Bill” Wingo, Station Manager. By September 1961 Rick Blakely was Station Manager & Chief Engineer with wife Pixie Blakely, Program Director & Office Manager; Hugo Petrini, News Director. Slogan: “K-Way.” In Fall 1961 Stephen W. “Steve” Hanson (formerly on KGGG; later on KUIK, KAGI, KRKT PM, KLOG/KUKN Owner/GM) returned and became KWAY Station Manager.

    Meanwhile on November 16, 1961 Irving V. Schmidtke with wife Eleanor M. Schmidtke doing business as Twin Cities Broadcasting Co. launched another radio station. KHOQ 1560kc in Hoquiam, WA signed on the air with Mr. Schmidtke as General Manager & Chief Engineer of the 1kw daytimer, acting as he had at KFGR. In March 1963 Stanley B. “Stan” Foreman became Program Director of then KHOK & later Station Manager.

    To get an idea of what KFGR/KRWC was like, Stan remembers working for Mr. Schmidtke at KHOK: “Irving was an engineer at heart and a good one. He loved doing the transmitter work and fixing things. He also had been a ship radio operator at one time. Irving lived at the station most of the time, his wife remained in Forest Grove. He ran it with the help of his son (Fred) and some high school kids…the format was a mish-mash of music and the sound of the station was way below the standards of the other stations in the market….KXRO ans KBKW, both in Aberdeen. In radio circles KHOK were somewhat of a joke.” Mr. Schmidtke would sell the station to Grays Harbor Broadcasting Co. on 7-15-65 where it would become KGHO.

    By January 1962 slogan: “K-Way, The Golden Sound.” By Spring 1962 Thomas “Tom” Prestwich was Station Manager & Program Director; Duncan James, Commercial Manager & George H. Ludtke, Chief Engineer. By August 1962 KWAY had switched to a Country & Western format with Rodeo Rick singing and playing tunes. Slogan: Country K-Way. In Fall 1962 Dave Bell (later on KLOG, KENI-AM-FM-TV, KUIK, KOIN PD & PM, Trail Blazers Radio [& current], KWJJ, KYXI, KUPL, KYXI-Portland Beavers, Oregon News Network ND) joined KWAY as a disc jockey and remembers: “I don’t think I lasted at KWAY. Seems we had a problem with payroll – or lack of it!”

    By September 1962 KWAY phone number was: ELgin 7-6644 and “The Wear Family” featuring Patty & Dewayne were on KWAY 7:30am to 8:00am weekdays, moving to 12 Noon by December 1962. Also in 1962 Country singer Susan Raye began singing live on KWAY weekday mornings and returned afternoons as a disc jockey on “Susan Rae’s Rhythm Ranch.” When off air at KWAY Rae was modeling for Jantzen & White Stag. Rae changed the spelling of her name to Raye by 1967 and had her first national Country hit in 1970.

    On June 1, 1963 the KWAY license Triple G. Broadcasting Co. was sold to Paul W. Savercool, President & Harold O. Savercool (a fuel dealer) for $37,500. Paul W. Savercool became Station Manager with Don Sells, Program Director; Doris J. Savercool, News Director & Promotions Manager; Phil K. Heinle, Commercial Manager. Format changed to Top 40. Slogans: “Top Tunes For Teens.” “The Sound From Ballad Town.” “Community Radio.” “The Better Music Sound of Washington County.” KWAY & KUIK were battling it out for the kid audience. KWAY operated 5:45am to sunset.

    In September 1963 Steve Phillips (later on AFRS, aka Steve Weber on KAGO, aka Web Camel on KATA, aka Jockey John on KUJ, aka Steve Bronson on KACI, aka Steve Weber on KGAR, aka Chuck Weber on KISN PD/MD) was a disc jockey on KWAY. By October 1964 Paul W. Savercool was President, Station Manager & Promotions Manager; Norma Savercool, Program Director & News Director; Harold O. Savercool, Commercial Manager.

    In early 1965 Harold O. Savercool became President & Robert T. Fletcher (formerly on KEED, KOMB, KBAR, KFLY, KGAY, KRXL, KLOO; later aka Bob Duke, aka “Big Daddy Duke” on KGAR PD/GM, KAAR SM) became General Manager, Commercial Manager & Promotions Manager; Hal Hopkins, Program Director & D.E. Jackson, News Director. Format switched to back to Country & Western. In August 1965 KWAY switched back to Top 40. On October 31, 1965 KWAY signed off the air after 15 years, with Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction” a hit that summer, as the stations last song and never returned.

    On February 2, 1966 The County Administrative Officer of Washington County announced they would receive sealed written bids for personal property items, equipment and furnishings of the former KWAY radio station until 4:30pm on February 11, 1966. The property was in storage in Hillsboro and included: a transmitter, a control panel with 3 Raytheon turntables, a tape recorder, an electric clock and more. On April 28, 2004 KFGR/KRWC founder, Irving V. Schmidtke died at age 91 in Forest Grove. On December 6, 1999 wife Eleanor M. Schmidtke died at age 94 in Forest Grove.

    Special Thanks to the following individuals who helped in the writing of this radio history, making it more complete: Dave Bell, Robert Fletcher, Stan Foreman, Chuck Weber, & Ron Vandehey.

    References: Billboard Magazine, Broadcasting Yearbook(s), Forest Grove City Library, Forest Grove News-Times, Hillsboro Argus, Hillsboro Public Library, The Oregon Journal, The Oregonian, Radio Annual(s).

    The first history of KWAY was originally posted on March 2, 2002.

    #1982
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    I found the instruction manual to the Raytheon RA-250 transmitter (used both by KFGR and KPDQ) online. You can see photos and a schematic of the transmitter there. The RF final amplifier was a push-pull triode design (using the 810 tube) that had to be neutralized. I would imagine that this transmitter would have generated all sorts of nasty IQM and modulation splatter if the neutralization control were not set just right.

    #1983
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Alfredo: Thanks for posting this link. I knew of it but didn’t think to place a link to the site.

    Steve Hanson just E-Mailed me with some great insight into KGGG. This paragraph in the history has now been expanded to two paragraphs. Plus there’s a third paragraph that’s been updated with Steve’s return to what became KWAY. [Amended above in original post. -Editor]

    #1984
    boisebill
    Participant

    Back in the 80’s, on my way from The Coast to Corvallis I used to take 47 through Forest Grove. North side of town was an AM tower that was nothing but rust. The little building was covered in vines. Really wish I had taken a pic of it. Couldn’t figure out how it was still vertical.

    #1985
    outsider
    Participant

    Craig, can you send me Steve Hanson’s email address please? Thanks.

    #1986
    kennewickman
    Participant

    Yes, I did a lot of driving out on the old Banks Hiway..in the 70s on a job I had out of radio..but I was still involved in the biz…I went by that place…the old transmitter site…I stopped and stared that thing down several times…I couldnt read the faded CALL SIGN very well and one time I went out there with a pair of binoculars..to read it and finally got it.. KWAY…the Smitty’s TV was readable alright but the callsign was terribly faded…and the tower was rusted up pretty bad in the 70s !! Cows werer grazing out there..

    Looked like something out of a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode…

    I would think that site has got to be long gone by now ?

    #1987
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Outsider: Hope you’re still with msn!

    #1988
    jr_tech
    Participant

    “I would think that site has got to be long gone by now ? “

    Yes! the site is covered by new construction… I think that the rusty tower was still standing into the 2000s, perhaps came down about 7-10 years ago.

    The new alignment of 47 North of FG is a block or two to the East of the old 47 route and the site.

    #1989
    outsider
    Participant

    ….Outsider: Hope you’re still with msn!….

    I am Craig. And thanks for the email.

    #1990
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    I’ve expanded one paragraph in the KWAY history to three, thanks to KISN alumni Chuck Weber who began his radio career at the station. Chuck aka Steve Phillips gives us a glimpse into the KWAY studio:

    In Summer 1963 Steve Phillips (later aka Steve Weber on KGAR, KBND, aka Steve Phillips on KAGO, AFRS Adak, KROW, aka Web Camel on KATA, aka Steve Bronson on KACI, aka Chuck Weber KISN PD/MD, aka Jockey John KUJ PD, aka Chuck Carson on KNND, KWWW, aka Steve Weber KODL CE, KGRV CE, KWVA CE, KEUG) was a disc jockey on KWAY. Slogans: “Heavenly 1570” & “When News Breaks Out, K-Way Breaks In!” By September 1963 Gene Nelson (later on KGAR, KBOY, aka Peter Anthony Mann KGAR MD, aka Doctor Love on KUJ) was a DJ, as were Slow Joe, mornings & John Starr, middays.

    Steve Phillips remembers: “Turntables were oil driven and had to be warmed-up. You could still get away with playing a 33 rpm at 45 rpm, until the speed caught up. If the morning man was late for the sign-on and National Anthem, he would use the gear-driven large turntable. That was for transcriptions,I believe. The cart machines had no cue system; they were the first cart players. You recorded audio on a Maggy reel to reel. The P.D. would take the tape and wind it onto a cartridge. The audio take went like so: “Cue to cut number one in Three, Two, One.” Stop the cart here; it is all cued-up ready to play. “Cue to Cut two. 3, 2, 1.”

    “The transmitter readings were taken on a direct-wired remote control panel up on the right. The pungent sweet smell of cigarettes in the air, the concept of early Top 50 rock and roll music, comin’ right out of high school to a career and the remoteness of Forest Grove, and the chill in the air electrified us. This was like the first broadcast like a WLS station to me.” By October 1964 Paul W. Savercool was President, Station Manager & Promotions Manager; Norma Savercool, Program Director & News Director; Harold O. Savercool, Commercial Manager.

    #1991
    chartquest1954
    Participant

    I was living in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area when, surprisingly one morning like four-in-the-morning, I was sitting on 1570 and suddenly a very weak KWAY sprung on the air running some kind of Equipment Test. As a DX’er, I always considered that one of the rarest “catches” of my lifetime. This was, I think, early 1962 – during whatever brief period “The Big X” XERF in Mexico was silent for a few months, leaving nothing but an empty 1570 overnight.

    #1992
    Waynes World
    Participant

    I remember Susan being a deejay and there was a teenage guy who followed her in the afternoon but I can’t remember his name. I saw Susan often on Hee Haw years later. it was Buck Owens who discovered her.

    #1993
    Waynes World
    Participant

    I think it was Phil somebody.

    #1994
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    Oil driven turntables? I was not aware that such beasts existed!

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