THE JOHNNY CARPENTER STORY

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  • #15577
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Today November 20, 1905 John Libby “Johnny” Carpenter was born in Spokane, Washington to Mary Ledoit (Libby) Carpenter and Rev. John Lewis Carpenter. Johnny had a younger brother Carl Sheldon Carpenter. John participated in sports in school “but baseball was the only one where I accomplished much.” He was a catcher and continued playing semipro ball for six years. In 1923 John graduated from North Central High School in Spokane. In 1925 he began his radio career as a Summer fill-in singer on KHQ Spokane.

    At the end of Summer he asked to remain. “Then I sort of made a job for myself,” he said. “I talked the Station Manager into broadcasting some high school games and some semipro baseball. That started me off. I was still playing semipro when I began sportscasting,” he grinned. “It was interesting on some Sundays. There would be two games and I would catch in one, then go up to the pressbox — in uniform — and broadcast the other.” By 1927 Johnny was a staff announcer at KGA.

    On September 1, 1934 John Libby Carpenter, 28, married 21 year old Virginia May Parmeter in Spokane. On June 3, 1936 Johnny & Virginia welcomed their son John Elwell Carpenter in Spokane.

    In May 1937 the Carpenters moved to Portland and Johnny began as a singer on co-owned KOIN-KALE and part-time sportscaster. On June 9, 1937 John was given his own 15 minute KOIN show called “Johnny Carpenter Songs” Wednesdays at 8:00pm to June 23rd.

    On September 7, 1937 it was announced Johnny Carpenter was leaving KOIN to become a sports play-by-play announcer for Washington State Cougar football, working for sponsor Associated Oil Company in public relations, promotion as well part of the Advertising staff.

    On October 30, 1937 Carpenter broadcast one of his most memorable games through the Associated Oil network via KIRO Seattle, KFPY Spokane, KVI Tacoma & KOIN at 1:45pm. He recalled it was a 0-0 tie between the University of Southern California and Washington State College at Pullman, when fog obliterated the view for spectators.

    “There was no way to call the game from the pressbox,” he recalled. “So I went down on the sideline with a field mike and did the best that I could from there. When the play would go to the other side of the field, I would just say, “There they go, they’ll be back soon.” Several sportwriters covering the same game, who were barred from the sidelines left the stadium to hear Carpenter’s account by radio.”

    On May 21, 1938 Johnny broadcast the Northern division of the Pacific Coast Conference Track & Field championships at Seattle at 2:00pm via KALE Portland, KSLM Salem, KORE Eugene & KRNR Roseburg. On November 2, 1939 Johnny & Virginia welcomed their first daughter Patricia Libby Carpenter. On January 5, 1940 Carpenter broadcast the Oregon State College-Idaho basketball game at 7:30pm on KWJJ. On March 8, 9 & 11, 1940 Johnny recreated via wire reports, three of the U.S.C-Oregon State basketball games on KWJJ.

    July 1, 1940 Johnny Carpenter rejoined the KOIN-KALE air staff as Public Relations & Special Events Director but continued his relationship with Associated Oil Company games into 1941. On September 19, 1941 Johnny began hosting “Pigskin Prophecies” on KALE at 9:15pm. On June 8, 1942 Carpenter was master of ceremonies for the WWII “Victory Center” noon-day show at S.W. Sixth Ave. & Morrison Streets, featuring the six “Victory Girl Revue” and others. More shows would follow.

    On November 22, 1942 Johnny was master of ceremonies for the new KOIN Sunday night half hour variety show called “Sears People’s Payroll Party” 8:30pm to 9:00pm with regulars Red Dunning & His Harmoniers, Suzanne Buree (later aka Jane Powell), Joseph Sampietro & His Orchestra and others. On April 1, 1944 Carpenter began hosting “Speaking of Sports” Saturday nights at 10:20pm. On September 16, 1944 Carpenter broadcast the Willamette-Whitman football game from Salem over KWJJ at 1:15pm.

    On September 28, 1944 Johnny began hosting “Sports a la Carte” at 6:30pm on KOIN. On December 6, 1944 Johnny’s father, the Reverend, John Lewis Carpenter died at age 72 in Spokane. On May 14, 1945 the versatile Johnny Carpenter, announcer, master of ceremonies, play-by-play broadcaster and singer, was among the entertainers at Lipman’s big War Bond Jubilee on Lipman’s street floor. On September 27, 28, 29 & 30, 1945 KOIN broadcast “The Portland Open” golf tournament with Johnny Carpenter reporting scores, hot plays and interviewing top players.

    On October 4, 1945 Johnny took to Portland sidewalks late night with KOIN’s new “Man In The Street Show” Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays at 10:15pm. “Talk! Humorous! Serious!” This show was renamed “Johnny Carpenter’s Say It With Flowers” on 2-14-46. On October 12, 1945 Carpenter began hosting “Johnny Carpenter’s Sports Spotlight” on KOIN Fridays at 7:30pm. This program in 1946 would become Johnny’s long running “Danger Ahead” sports show at 5:30pm.

    On September 28, 1946 Carpenter broadcast the Oregon-Pacific football game over ABC Radio and KEX. On December 24, 1946 Johnny began his annual Christmas Eve program from Shriners Hospital on KOIN at 6:30pm, which continued for decades.

    On January 19, 1947 it was announced by Portland Mayor, Earl Riley that Johnny Carpenter was named a public member of the Portland Traffic Safety Commission. Carpenter became Chairman of the Public Information committee, having hosted the commission’s weekly radio program since its inception. By April 1947 the Carpenters were living in a home at: 4514 S.E. Franklin St.

    On June 12, 1947 it was revealed that Johnny Carpenter was now a Rose Festival Rosarian. On July 13, 1947 Johnny introduced thirty contestants for the “Miss Portland of 1947” pageant at Jantzen Beach Park. On October 11, 1947 Johnny Carpenter broadcast the Oregon State-Idaho football game from Corvallis at 1:45pm on KEX.

    On October 21, 1947 Johnny Carpenter was featured singer on “Red’s Gang” (later aka “Come & Get It”) at 7:30pm. This was actually Red Dunning & the KOIN Orchestra. (Also see TV version in 1957). On January 17, 1948 Carpenter broadcast the Univ. of Oregon vs Oregon State basketball game at 8:00pm on KWJJ. On August 4, 1948 Johnny & Virginia welcomed their second daughter Colleen Carpenter.

    On February 11, 1949 Johnny Carpenter became Sportscaster Committee Chairman of the “Oregon Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association” that he co-founded. He was later President in 1950. On June 23, 1949 it was announced by Oregon Governor, Douglas McKay that John L. Carpenter was named Vice Chairman of the Portland Traffic & Transportation commission. Carpenter later was a recipient of the Governor’s medal for outstanding service to safety in the State of Oregon.

    On October 1, 1949 KOIN AM/FM broadcast the Oregon State-California football game at 1:45pm with Johnny Carpenter as sportscaster and Barney Keep as commentator. On November 25, 1949 Johnny Carpenter described the floats and other parade features of the Fairy Tale Parade on KOIN.

    On January 19, 1950 John L. Carpenter was elected Chairman of the Portland Traffic Safety Commission, a position he would hold through 1964. On August 21, 1950 Johnny & Virginia welcomed their third daughter Linda Lee Carpenter. At the time the family was living at: 2625 S.E. Market St. On September 30, 1950 Johnny Carpenter & Bob Tomlinson broadcast the Univ. of Oregon vs. Univ of California football game from Multnomah Stadium on KGW and 30 other stations in five Western states, sponsored by Tide Water Associated Oil Company. There were other Univ. of Oregon games broadcast as well.

    By August 1952 Carpenter was the United Fund film Chairman, Later narrating the 11 minute, 16mm color movie called “The United Fund Story” to promote the organization, released in August 1954. On September 27, 1952 the Saturday interview program “Looking Ahead” debuted with Johnny Carpenter at 10:15pm. By December 1952 Johnny Carpenter was President of the “Oregon Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association” again. By May 1953 Johnny Carpenter was KOIN AM/FM Sports Director.

    On June 14, 1953 Johnny gave commentary during the Junior Rose Festival parade on KPTV ch. 27 from 1:45pm to 2:15pm. On September 26, 1953 Johnny Carpenter and Bob Blackburn teamed to broadcast the Oregon State-California game on KPOJ AM/FM at 1:15pm. Plus the Oregon State-Stanford game on 10-10-53. On October 13, 1953 Carpenter spoke at the Portland Kiwanis Club luncheon on the topic “New Horizons in Television” at the Multnomah Hotel.

    On November 3, 1953 Carpenters duties expanded to Television when KOIN-TV ch. 6 began “Sportscene with Johnny Carpenter” at 6:05pm. On November 19, 1953 the KOIN-TV program “Safety.” 15 minute panel discussion featuring Johnny interviewing Governor, Paul Patterson, Ned Dearborn, President of the National Safety Council & Paul Gurske, Chairman of the Oregon Industrial Accident Commission. 3:15pm. On January 15, 1954 Johnny was Multnomah County Chairman of the “Crusade For Freedom.”

    By February 1954 Johnny Carpenter was a regular on the “Come And Get It” program. Ad: Enjoy Top Mid-day Entertainment on Portland’s most popular local musical program “COME AND GET IT” 12:15 P.M. Monday Thru Friday. Featuring These KOIN Radio Artists: Bob Henderson, Red Dunning, Walt McKinney, Johnny Carpenter, Red’s Gang. Fun, Music, Weather Reports. KOIN AM – FM Radio, CBS, 970 on your dial — 101.1 megacycles.”

    By March 1954 Carpenter was President of the Portland Safety committee. By April 1954 Johnny Carpenter’s “Sports Spotlight” was heard at 6:30pm on KOIN AM/FM for 15 minutes. On June 9, 1954 Johnny’s covered the Rose Festival Queen Coronation at 9:00pm on KOIN AM/FM.

    On June 12, 1954 KOIN-TV’s first coverage of the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. Ad: “Join Johnny Carpenter and the KOIN-TV cameras in the most exciting Rose Parade Ever! Thrill as Portland’s first aerial cameras swoops from breath-taking panoramas to vivid close-ups. See the floats as you’ve never seen them before.” Again in 1955. Then with co-hosts thru 1968.

    On October 15 1954 KOIN-TV celebrated its first anniversary with a television tour of the Channel 6 studios while in operation with Johnny Carpenter as roving host, conducting a behind-the-scenes look at the entire station. 11:00pm. On December 16, 1954 Johnny Carpenter was featured on the CBS-TV game show “Strike It Rich” at 3:30pm. On January 6, 1955 Johnny’s mother Mary Ledoit Carpenter died at age 75. On April 24, 1955 Johnny & Virginia welcomed their fourth daughter Deborah L. “Debbie” Carpenter.

    On July 14, 1955 John Carpenter received a Defense Force Public Service award from the Ground Observer Corps. On September 24, 1955 “Football Final” debuted on KOIN-TV Saturdays at 5:30pm with host Johnny Carpenter. On February 25, 1956 “Baseball Time with Johnny Carpenter” made its first telecast on KOIN-TV at 1:45pm. On May 14, 1956 it was announced, the National Safety Council awarded John L. Carpenter a citation for his outstanding public support for traffic safety. Carpenter was just one of seven individuals in the United States to receive the citation.

    By September 1956 “Johnny Carpenter Sports” was heard weeknights at 6:00pm on KOIN AM/FM. On November 22, 1956 Johnny Carpenter & Bob Blackburn reported play-by-play from Corvallis for the Oregon State-Oregon game on KOIN AM/FM at 1:15pm. On March 9, 1957 Johnny & Bob reported on the action with the O.S.C. Beavers clashing with the U. of O. Ducks. on KOIN AM/FM at 8:00pm.

    On April 29, 1957 KOIN-TV premiered “Red’s Gang” Monday thru Wednesday at 6:15pm. Johnny Carpenter emceed and sang. Red Dunning was at the helm of the KOIN Orchestra and occasional guests. (Also see Radio version in 1947). On May 6, 1957 ad: “CARPENTER CALLING. Now be listening every evening as Portland’s favorite interviewer, Johnny Carpenter, brings you behind-the-scenes news highlights, the day’s top sports headlines, and an outstanding personality as guest. 6 to 6:15 P. M. Monday thru Friday. KOIN Radio Dial 970.”

    On May 20, 1957 “Blockbuster Quiz” debuted on KOIN AM/FM & KOIN-TV weekdays at 3:30pm with Johnny Carpenter hosting the 15 minute game show for viewers and listeners to telephone for prizes. Ad: “The Biggest Telephone Quiz In Portland History! Fun, Excitement & Prices Galore!” On July 28, 1957 Johnny Carpenter was emcee of the 11th annual “Miss Oregon” pageant in Seaside. He did others as well.

    On September 1, 1957 it was announced Johnny Carpenter & Bob Blackburn would handle play-by-play of the 11 game schedule of the Oregon State College-University of Oregon football games on KOIN AM/FM starting September 21st. On September 25, 1957 “Red’s Gang” on KOIN-TV was canceled. On March 23, 1958 “Dugout Club” debuted from Multnomah Stadium, home of the Portland Beavers. Johnny Carpenter hosted with player interviews on tips and hints. KOIN-TV at 12:45pm.

    On March 27, 1958 “Winner’s Circle” with Johnny began. Interviews and film clips from Portland Meadows. KOIN-TV at 10:10pm weeknights. On December 1, 1958 Carpenter broadcast the first basketball game of the season. Oregon State vs. Univ. of Oregon, from Corvallis. KOIN AM/FM at 8:00pm. On July 27, 1959 Johnny Carpenter was the announcer for “Art Linkletter’s House Party” broadcast on KOIN AM/FM & KOIN-TV via Oregon Centennial Exposition Arena. On February 16, 1960 Carpenter became Multnomah County Chapter, treasurer of the “March of Dimes.”

    On September 5, 1960 Johnny’s wife Virginia May Carpenter died at age 47. On February 20, 1961 Carpenter became Chairman of the Multnomah County Chapter of the “March of Dimes.” May 25, 1961 ad: “Live Music Every Afternoon on “COME and GET IT.” Red Dunning and the entire staff orchestra are joined by vocalists Johnny Carpenter and Walt McKinney for a noontime musical funfest. Tune in — 12:20 to 12:55 p.m. Monday thru Friday. KOIN AM/FM Dial 970.”

    On September 25, 1961 KOIN-TV unveiled “Newscene” at 5:45pm with Art Kirkham with regional and local news, Chuck Foster, national and international news, Bob Lynott weather & Johnny Carpenter, sports. On December 5, 1961 the debut of “Johnny Carpenter’s News & Sports” on KOIN AM/FM at 5:45pm for 15 minutes, Monday thru Saturday. On July 20, 1962 it was announced Johnny Carpenter has joined Doris Kyber as a regular co-host on the “Hi Neighbor!” program at 12 Noon on KOIN-TV.

    On October 10, 1962 KOIN-TV carried the Portland Buckaroos vs. the San Francisco Seals from the Cow Palace with Bud Foster, play-by-play and Johnny Carpenter doing color. 7:00pm. On October 23, 1962 Virginia Pickett replaced Doris Kyber as co-host with Johnny Carpenter on “Hi Neighbor!” By January 1963 Johnny Carpenter was Chairman of the “Oregon Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.” On February 15, 1963 it was reported Helen Burns had replaced Virginia Pickett as co-host with Johnny Carpenter on “Hi Neighbor!”

    On March 5, 1963 Johnny Carpenter “Sports” began weekday afternoons at 5:30 pm for 5 minutes on KOIN AM/FM. On April 18, 1963 the Portland City Council awarded John L. Carpenter a special certificate of recognition for outstanding public service for his 16 years as veteran of the Portland Traffic Safety Commission. On May 9, 1963 it was reported Carpenter was down with bronchial pneumonia for five days. On January 6, 1964 Johnny Carpenter became Oregon State Chairman for the “March of Dimes.”

    On August 7, 1964 Portland Mayor, Terry Schrunk “regretfully accepted” the resignation of John L. Carpenter of the Portland Traffic Safety Commission. On October 12, 1964 Doris Kyber returned, replacing Helen Burns, to co-host with Johnny Carpenter on “Hi Neighbor!” On July 26, 1965 began a week of “Hi Neighbor!” telecasts live from Lloyd Center with co-hosts Johnny Carpenter & Doris Kyber with Red Dunning & The KOIN Orchestra. KOIN-TV at 12:05pm. Another week of telecasts happened the following year beginning on July 25, 1966.

    March 15, 1968 ad: “KOIN Quote. KOIN’s cigar – smoking Sports Director, Johnny Carpenter, has read so many alarming facts about the dangers of smoking he’s decided to give up reading. Join KOIN 970.” On June 8, 1968 Johnny described his last Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade on KOIN AM/FM & KOIN-TV. Co-hosted with Art Kirkham.

    On November 14, 1968 John Libby Carpenter married Betty J. Haldeman. On April 26, 1969 Johnny Carpenter, Art Eckman & Gary Hamilton began broadcasting Portland Beavers baseball on KOIN 970. On April 27, 1969 Johnny went to see his doctor after he had three or four light attacks and was then rushed to Physicians & Surgeons Hospital. This is where he suffered a major heart attack while in bed. On May 20, 1969 it was reported Johnny had been moved from the intensive care section and he was not permitted to have visitors. He went home three times and then landed back in the hospital.

    On October 18, 1969 Carpenter was reported back at KOIN-TV well enough work a couple of hours a day, resting on a couch in his office when he felt tired. “I’ve lost track of how many attacks that I’ve had; one time I had four in one day.” An oxygen tank and mask are among his household items nowadays “and I have to carry some pills with me, too, which I take if I don’t feel just right.” Grateful, he is — to be alive and to KOIN executives “who have been great to me” with his health problems.

    On December 1, 1970 Johnny Carpenter retired from KOIN Radio & Television. On February 1, 1971 it was announced at the 23rd annual “Bill Hayward Banquet of Champions”, that the “Slats Gill Trophy” award would hereafter be called the “John Carpenter Trophy” in honor of the retiring sportscaster.

    On February 21, 1975 Johnny Carpenter died of a heart attack at age 69. On February 24, 1975 a memorial service was held in Finley’s Morninglight Chapel at 2:30pm. On March 2, 1975 this ad appeared in the Oregonian: “Card of Thanks — The Children of John L. Carpenter wish to thank the many friends we might not personally reach who were so thoughtful in their tributes and remembrances to “Johnny.”

    Oregonian’s Behind The Mike column 1-29-62: “I nominate Johnny Carpenter as Radio-TV Man of the Year in Oregon. He has a great and warm personality over the air waves and has given many outstanding broadcasts in the past 25 years. What is wrong with Portland fans that they have not given Johnny this richly merited appreciation for his superb work? I have been a happy listener over these years and a regular fan.

    This is high praise when I must admit I am not a sports enthusiast, although I do enjoy hockey and baseball. His sense of humor is priceless. I wish to call attention to the many civic movements he has activated and made successful. This, in my estimation, is one of his finest contributions to the welfare of the city. I have a deep envy for those many hundreds of his personal friends who are privileged to know and enjoy his warm, generous, sincere and understanding personality — V.W. Cather, Portland.”

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

    References: The Oregonian, Radio Daily.

    #17926
    Waynes World
    Participant

    I have an LP somewhere called I am an American from 1965 and he was the announcer for that it had all the choirs in the high schools

    #17984
    David P
    Participant

    Craig and Adam,

    Thank you both so much for this forum. I am Johnny’s grandson and I was sadly never able to meet him. My mother Debbie happened upon this article by accident today and I have since shared it with the remainder of our family. We are all so touched and thankful for the effort put into this article to not only provide accuracy but also give some of us, including myself, an insight into his life that we otherwise would have never been able to see or hear about.

    Again thank you so much for the wonderful feed.

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