08 January 2009

In The Days of KVDO-Salem's Channel 3

1898.Some time in the past I redrew, from my memory and from what little was available on the intarmets, the logo for KVDO Channel 3, Salem, Oregon.

Very few people today remember KVDO Channel 3, but it was Salem's first licensed TV station. If anyone at all remembers it, it's because it moved to Bend to become the OPB outlet for the central Oregon area ... and a local viewer was upset enough about it that he went out to the transmitter site in the south Salem hills and cut a guy wire on the tower, bringing it down (acutally, not necessarily in that order ... I may have these events out of sequence. But, sally forth!).

Those were good times for local TV viewers in Salem though. Nice to have a station you could call hometown. After blathering some about it and seeing what KVDO had for one evenings viewing, though, moved a commenter who identified himself as "Ken" to give me a bit clearer view of what it was like to run an independent TV station in the shadow of Portland during the 1970s, and his comment is so good, I thought I'd share it here. Take it away, Ken:

KVDO channel 3 was the first TV station licensed to Salem and was well known in the area. One of KVDO was the lack of available programming. This was in the days prior to Sat's and small format tape. Master control consisted of three quad 2" machines and a film chain of 3 16mm and one dual 35mm slide drum. This was also Salem’s only news cast until KECH 22 for a short time ran news. News was a three man cast, two talent and a MCR operator. The "talent" did double duty in that when not on the air they were the camera operators so when one was on air the other ran camera.

One must remember in those days news was all on film and in B&W. I have been told but other in the know KVDO demise happened in a major part with something good for them bad got a Portland station. When a tower was cut in Portland KVDO became a network during the repair. The network rating went way up because KVDO not only covered Portland but the Eugene (at the time there was only 2 networks in Eugene). This got the attention of some people and they did everything they could do remove this potential problem. About 1 to 2 years later KVDO was sold to KEZI Eugene and then to OEPBS (now OPB). OEPBS ran channel 3 for a couple of years and then had the channel moved to Bend Oregon in exchange moving channel 32 allocation to Salem (now KRCW).

Even today with the right aged crowd if you say KVDO a vast majority say “oh I remember it” main in that this was a “SALEM station” vs. a “Portland” station. Programming was not the best but in the late 60’s and 70’s it was something to watch/ whether it was TV shows, news Salem “live” wrestling, roller derby or movies it was one of only 4 stations to watch.

Thanks for the extra information, Ken. I had no idea how much travail one had to face in running a station in Salem during those days, and there was so little to see over the air ... and what adventure there seemed to be in bringing local TV to the mid-Willamette Valley.

These days, KWVT Channel 17 is covering the Salem area. With its coverage area I have no way of viewing the programming, but think it's nifty that Salem have its own station and it must be pleasing the locals, because it's still going strong.

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1 comment:

Robert Mason said...

I was employed at KVDO between March of 1970 and March 1975 as a floor director, cameraman and eventually production manager. I just read Ken's narrative and found a couple of inaccuracies. Ken's description of MCR was accurate except we only had TWO Videotape machines. They were old Ampex 1000 2-inch quad machines which had originally been black and white machines but were converted to color. The other error is that the news "talent" never ran studio cameras. We had only one camera and it was always operated by a member of the production department. They did, however shoot their own news film. The news department usually did consist of three people, one sports guy and two news reporters. The weather was totally handled by a local funeral home. They sponsored and actually reported the weather. Anyone who lived in Salem then and watch TV3 will remember STU MARTIN'S THEATRE OF GOLDEN HITS, a late night movie that was about 30% movie and 70% Live or replayed commercials. You had to see it to believe it. I left KVDO in March 1970 and was transferred to KEZI-TV in Eugene where I worked for 2+ years before going to the Seattle market. But I have fond memories of KVDO-TV3.