THE JOHN SALISBURY STORY

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    Craig_Adams
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    Today April 17, 1916 John Ainsworth Salisbury was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Gladys Leighton (Ainsworth) and Maurice Eugene Salisbury. John had a younger sister: Janis A. “Jan” Salisbury. In 1933 John began his broadcast career at WRHM Minneapolis (later aka WLB). In 1937 he graduated from “West High School.” In 1941 John graduated from the “University of Minnesota” with a Speech and Journalism degree.

    John served in the U.S. Army during WWII in Brazil. On July 21, 1943 John announced his engagement at a dinner party in Minneapolis. On August 1, 1943 John Ainsworth Salisbury married LaVerne Williams in Baltimore, Maryland. Pvt. Salisbury was temporarily stationed in New Orleans at the time. In 1946 John Salisbury became Program Director of WMIN Saint Paul, Minn. where he was an announcer.

    On January 13, 1947 it was announced John Salisbury would become an administrator for the “National Academy of Broadcasting” in Washington, D.C. John was in that position three years. In 1949, he worked as an actor and playwright for the “Old Log Theater”, Summer stock in Excelsior, Minn. Then a stretch of time with the “Long Beach Theatre Guild” in California. From 1950 to 1953, he was administrator of the “Beck School of Radio” in Minneapolis.

    On May 9, 1953 John Ainsworth Salisbury married Patricia Burneice “Pat” Larson in Minneapolis. On June 21, 1953 John and Pat welcomed their son Clark Ainsworth Salisbury in Minneapolis. Then the Salisbury family moved to Salt Lake City where John became KALL Radio & KUTV News Editor.

    In February 1955 the Salisbury’s moved to Portland at 10 N.E. 66th Ave. and helped KLOR channel 12 sign on the air March 9, 1955 as Chief Announcer & Production Consultant. On March 13, 1955 John began hosting “Imperial Theater” Sunday’s at 5pm and March 14, 1955 “Academy Theater” Monday nights at 9pm. John spent approximately four hours weekly in preparation for the programs. On July 14, 1955 John and Pat welcomed their daughter Carey J. Salisbury. By April 1956 John Salisbury had been named KLOR Program Coordinator.

    On April 22, 1956 it was announced John Salisbury was winner of the 1955 “Portland Civic Theater” prize playwright contest, with his “This Blessed Union” play, a witty smart & sophisticated three act comedy, drama written by Salisbury. On June 30, 1956 “Academy Theater” hosted by Salisbury had guests Gene Autry & The Cass County Boys, Gail Davis (TV’s Annie Oakley) Monty Montana & Heck Harper. On October 14, 1956 “Imperial Theater” ran for the last time. On March 30, 1957 “Academy Theater” also ended.

    On April 20, 1957 John’s father Maurice Eugene Salisbury married the mother of TV’s “Gunsmoke”, James Arness & TV’s “Fury”, Peter Graves mother who was Ruth Eleanore Duesler (Aurness, her spelling) in Santa Barbara, Calif. John was his father’s best man in the wedding. On May 1, 1957 KLOR channel 12 merged with KPTV and Salisbury gave the farewell statement for KLOR. John continued with KPTV channel 12. On May 6, 1957 “Academy Theater” was brought back weeknights at 10:35pm. On June 12, 1957 it was announced John Salisbury had won for the 2nd time in two years, Portland Civic Theater’s playwright contest, for his “Love Scene” three act comedy.

    On September 2, 1957 John Salisbury began anchoring KPTV’s “News Central” at 5:45pm with Geri Lindsey, “All-Weather Girl.” Salisbury also did interviews on “Sunday Newsreel” at 5:30pm. On February 1, 1958 John Salisbury became KPTV News Editor. February 5, 1958 ad: “John Salisbury presents a sharp news commentary on local, regional and national news, plus an unusual and amusing “kicker.” News Central, 6:00 P.M.” On June 10, 1958 John A. Salisbury was named KPTV News Director. On October 15, 1958 “News Central” became “The Carter Reporter.” On April 6, 1959 Salisbury debuted his news & special events program “Project 12” at 6:30pm for 30 minutes.

    On March 1, 1960 KPTV relaunched “News Central” at 6:00pm. John Salisbury did international news & commentary; Wallace Turner, local news; George Sanders, sports and John Lewis, weather. On April 12, 1960 John Salisbury left for the “East-West Summit Conference” in Paris for a week. In his place was George Sanders, national & international news, with Jimmy Jones filling in for Sanders, reporting on sports. This combination might have worked better, or there were other reasons, since Sanders was also Program Director. On May 16, 1960 John Salisbury was taken off “News Central” but remained on KPTV’s “Final Edition” at 11:00pm.

    On October 24, 1960 it was announced John Salisbury had joined “Richard G. Montgomery & Associates, Inc.” as Public Relations Director, which was a Portland ad agency & public relations firm. Salisbury would continue to anchor KPTV’s “Final Edition” at 11:00pm. Evidently being dropped from “News Central” at 6pm cut into John’s paycheck, so he took another job but soon found he could not balance an 11pm newscast, then be in the office at 8am the next morning, five days a week. On December 9, 1960 John Salisbury said goodbye to his “Final Edition” audience. August 1961 Salisbury was living at 514 S.E. 69th Ave.

    On September 1, 1961 John A. Salisbury joined KXL Radio, becoming News Director. He began mornings on KXL’s 7am & 8am newscasts September 4th. On February 11, 1962 Salisbury interviewed KXL co-owner Danny Kaye on the new “Talking Points” program at 5pm and Lawrence Welk on August 5th. By April 1962 John Salisbury had the title of KXL Director of News & Special Events.

    On June 10, 1962 Salisbury took over the reins of KXL’s “Sunday Spectacular” program from Mel Bailey, which had consisted of playing original cast albums from Broadway shows and movies. Salisbury began building a program reminiscent of The Golden Age of Radio. He retained the original cast album feature but in addition began interviewing stars, taking two trips a year to Hollywood to obtain interviews. The first Salisbury “Sunday Spectacular” was the Broadway version of “Destry Rides Again.” On September 23, 1962 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury had traveled to Seattle for a taped interview with Maurice Chevalier. On March 23, 1963 John Ainsworth Salisbury, 46, married, 24 year old Jodell Frances “Jody” Covell.

    On April 22, 1963 KXL’s John Salisbury was awarded the “George Washington Medal of Honor”, from the Freedom Foundation, for his 1962 commentaries titled “A Message For Americans.” On February 10, 1963 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed Jayne Mansfield. On July 4, 1963 John Salisbury was Grand Marshal of Hillsboro “Happy Days.” On top of doing all his work at KXL and appearances, John also spoke to groups and clubs extensively. On July 5, 1963 Salisbury spoke to 150 nudists at the “Northwestern Regional Sunbathing Convention” at Restful Haven, 20 miles West of Portland. He spoke on “Let Freedom Ring.” John & wife Jody wore clothes.

    On September 15, 1963 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed Andy Williams. On October 4, 1963 John & Jody welcomed a 7 pound, 4 ounce daughter, Darian “Elisa” Salisbury. On December 15, 1963 Salisbury interviewed via tape Bing Crosby on his “Sunday Spectacular” while in Hollywood and then Fred Astaire taped interview on March 15, 1964. Also from the Hollywood interviews was Sammy Davis Jr. broadcast April 19th. Sammy recalled playing the old Portland “Clover Club.” The next interview was Frank Sinatra, which aired on KXL May 17, 1964. On June 21, 1964 Salisbury interviewed Governor, Mark Hatfield on KXL’s “Talking Points” at 5:05pm.

    On June 21, 1964 KXL presented “Bob Hope – A Personal Visit.” Salisbury’s interview with Bob at 3:05pm. On August 16, 1964 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed Johnny Mathis via tape from Hollywood at 3:05. Then an interview with George Burns taped from July 1963 in Hollywood, aired on September 6th at 3:05pm. Then on October 18th the Hollywood taped interview with Jack Benny at 3:05pm, and on December 27th taped interview of George Jessel. On January 10, 1965 “Sunday Spectacular” interview with Henry Mancini, 3:05pm. Then on the set of “Gunsmoke”, Salisbury interviewed Matt Dillon aka James Arness, (John’s step-brother) who seldom gave interviews, aired on March 21st.

    On March 21, 1965 “Talking Point” Sunday broadcast Salisbury interviewed Basil Rathbone at 5:05pm. On April 4, 1965 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury special interview with Julie Andrews of “The Sound of Music” at 3:05pm. Then Andy Griffith was Salisbury’s guest interview at 3:05pm on April 18th. On June 6, 1965 John Salisbury launched his book “A Message For Americans” $3.00. On July 18, 1965 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed George Gobel at 3:05pm. Then an interview with Jimmy Durante on August 22nd and then it was TV’s Ben Cartwright, Lorne Greene of “Bonanza” interviewed and broadcast on December 19, 1965 at 3:05pm.

    On January 23, 1966 KXL “Talk Point” program with Salisbury’s guest Vincent Price at 9:10am. On February 22, 1966 it was announced Salisbury won his 2nd “George Washington Medal of Honor”, from the Freedom Foundation, for his daily 8:00am commentary titled “State of Excitement.” On March 27, 1966 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury, just back from Hollywood taped interviews, brought to KXL “Batman”, Adam West & Robin, Burt Ward. On May 1, 1966 KATU began airing the TV version of “Message For Americans” Sunday’s at 6:55pm. The 5 minute program hosted by John Salisbury was based on the award winning radio series. On May 15, 1966 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed Robert Goulet aired at 3:05pm.

    On June 2, 1966 John Salisbury was released from St. Vincent Hospital after recovering from a light heart attack and returned to KXL June 20th. On August 21, 1966 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed via Hollywood tape Wayne Newton at 3:05pm. Then TV’s Gomer Pyle, Jim Nabors interviewed from Hollywood on October 23rd. and Eddie Fisher interviewed on November 20th. On January 15, 1967 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed Rudy Vallee at 3:05pm. Then Salisbury interviewed Steve Allen on March 19th airing at 3:05pm.

    On April 19, 1967 Salisbury’s “Message For Americans” heard on KXL, was announced to be broadcast on “Armed Forces Radio Service” overseas. On May 21, 1967 “Sunday Spectacular” John Salisbury interviewed half-brothers James Arness “Gunsmoke” & Jim’s brother Peter Graves (later in Fall cast in “Mission: Impossible”) at 3:05pm. Then Salisbury interviewed Leslie Uggams on August 6th at 3:05pm.

    On November 4, 1967 Billboard magazine wrote about Salisbury’s new LP in an article titled: “A Patriotic Album Is Produced By KXL. Portland, Ore.— A patriotic album — “A Message For Americans” — has been produced by KXL here for sale at $3.95. The record features some of the best of the daily commentaries written and presented each morning by newscaster John Salisbury. The award-winning series, launched in 1962, was published in book form in 1965 and later that year syndicated on stations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana & Alaska. Liner notes report that the LP comes at the request of listeners and that Salisbury “does not side with those who seem to believe America is going to Hell in a handbasket.” Cuts include “The Valley of The Purple People”, “My Country” & “How Important One Vote!” Salisbury is News Director & Director of Special Projects for KXL.”

    On December 17, 1967 “Sunday Spectacular” with John Salisbury, interviewed Anita Bryant at 3:05pm. Then Salisbury interviewed from Reno via tape, Liberace for the January 21, 1968 broadcast at 3:05pm. Salisbury interviewed Petula Clark on March 24th & Rod McKuen on March 31st, plus a revisit of KXL co-owner Danny Kaye on June 23rd. On August 1, 1968 KXL began its first morning news block from 6:30 to 7:45am daily. John Lewis was News Editor & anchor along with colleagues John Salisbury, Ralph Rogers, Graham Archer, Don Porter and others.

    On January 9, 1969 KXL adjusted its morning news block 6:30 to 8:15am which included: 7-7:15am John Salisbury news, news in deph with special reports and features. 7:25-7:30am “Featurescope with John Salisbury” & “Today In History.” 8-8:15am John Salisbury News with special reports, features, sports, weather, plus morning commentary. On February 16, 1969 “Sunday Spectacular” Salisbury interviewed Tony Bennett at 3:05pm. Then Salisbury interviewed Ed Ames April 20th & Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. September 14th, plus Julie London, January 25, 1970 at 3:05pm.

    On February 17, 1970 it was announced John Salisbury had won the “George Washington Medal of Honor” from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, for his editorial “This Is Law Day” broadcast on KXL in 1969. Salisbury was the first broadcaster ever to receive the editorial award. He would go on to receive 14 more Freedom Foundation awards. On March 1, 1970 “Sunday Spectacular” with Salisbury interviewed Vic Damone at 3:05pm & Jimmy Dean October 11th at 3:05pm. On September 19, 1970 John Ainsworth Salisbury, 54, married 40 year old Joan Iris Delkin in Clark County, Wash.

    On December 20, 1970 it was announced John Salisbury’s latest book of essays and other works in a collection titled “The World & Other Strangers” was released (Bede-Hibbitt, Inc., Salisbury Books, $3.95). On January 31, 1971 “Sunday Spectacular” KXL AM/FM Salisbury interviewed Edie Adams. On August 21, 1971 “Talk For Two” program, Salisbury’s conversation with Senator, Mark Hatfield at 7:35pm & Salisbury’s conversation with Senator Bob Packwood on September 11th at 6:30pm.

    On November 14, 1971 “Sunday Spectacular” KXL AM/FM Salisbury interviewed Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. star of TV’s “The F.B.I.” On May 18, 1972 John’s father Maurice Eugene Salisbury died at age 85 in California. On July 24, 1972 it was announced John Salisbury was elected Western Regional Director of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. On August 15, 1972 Brian Jennings began as a rotating morning anchor 6 to 9am with John Salisbury, John Lewis & Don Porter.

    In September 1974 John Salisbury was elected Vice-President of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. On September 19, 1975 John Salisbury was elected President of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. On February 22, 1976 it was announced John Salisbury had won the “George Washington Medal of Honor” from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, for his “Notes and Comments: A Reverence For Life” broadcast on KXL in 1975. On September 5, 1976 “An Hour With Ella” Salisbury interviewed Ella Fitzgerald via phone as part of the special at 3pm.

    On January 27, 1977 it was reported John Salisbury was recovering from open-heart surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital. Salisbury wouldn’t return to KXL until March 1st. By June 1977 the KXL air staff included morning news anchors Brian Jennings & Jeff Grimes, sports with Bill Johnson & commentary from John Salisbury 5 to 9am. In March 1978 John A. Salisbury became KXL Executive Director of News & Public Affairs & Brian Jennings became News Director.

    On October 1, 1978 “This Fabulous Century with John Salisbury” debuted on KXL at 8:35am daily. On November 18, 1979 “Sunday with Salisbury” debuted on KXL at 3:05pm. This was a variety show based on records & tapes from his collections. In 1980 John Salisbury was awarded Radio-Television News Directors Association’s “John F. Hogan” award for distinguished contributions to journalism and freedom of the Press. On January 26, 1982 KXL’s Ray Watson announced John Salisbury would retire but continue as Senior Advisor for News & Commentary.

    On July 11, 1983 John Salisbury celebrated his 50th Year in Broadcasting with a party at Ede & Ron Schmidt’s home. Guests included: Gov., Vic Atiyeh; Mayor, Frank Ivance; writer, Gerry Frank; broadcaster, Jim Howe and others. Salisbury told the gathering he was “a long way from retiring….just taking a deep breath before launching another decade or so of broadcasting.” It should also be mentioned that Salisbury wrote many articles in “The Oregonian” throughout the 70’s & 80’s.

    On January 1, 1986 John Salisbury retired as KXL Senior Advisor for News & Commentary but continued on special assignments for KXL. Salisbury’s last recorded commentary aired on KXL January 3, 1986. On June 22, 1986 “The Carol Channing Special” on KBPS aired with the Salisbury interview of Carol at 3pm.

    On June 27, 1987 John Salisbury died of a heart attack in his S.W. Portland home. He was 71 years old. On June 29, 1987 a memorial service was held at St. James Lutheran Church, 1315 S.W. Park Ave. at 7:30pm. Remains were sent to Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. Salisbury was given posthumously “The Tom McCall Award” from the Oregon Association of Broadcasters later in the year. “He was a tremendous credit to the profession — so honest and forthright in everything he did.” Ray Watson, former KXL General Manager.

    Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.

    References: Abilene Reporter-News, Billboard Magazine, The Oregonian, TV Prevue.

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