Magazine Feature

Ron Palmquist: On the air at KVDU

As a KVDU staffer, it was my job to set up the remote equipment in the old DU Field House press box on the third level above the ice. I would hook the amp’s lines to a telephone company connector pad, call the station and make sure they could hear us. I did all of the color and another staffer — I don’t remember his name — did the play-by-play.

We also synchronized our watches and tuned in a portable radio to hear the audio cues that would put us on the air. It was a great experience. During the game I would scout out between-period interviews, and we reported results of other campus sporting events and some pro sports as well. I remember thinking I had really scored when I found a senator from North Dakota to interview between periods at a DU-North Dakota game. It was pretty heady stuff, as was the press box coffee on level two. My only regret was that I was unable to interview coach Murray Armstrong. I did speak with the DU ski coach — remember Willy “It’s fun to win” Schaeffler?

Interestingly, the DU radio-television school was offered the ownership of the station—the offer was declined because we learned that someone in authority at the University believed that the student broadcasters’ on-air mistakes would reflect negatively on the entire school.

KVDU was headquartered in building T-8, a military surplus structure the University acquired — along with Quonset huts and the field house — to help handle post-World War II growth. At T-8, in addition to classrooms and offices, we had a fully equipped radio control room and studio, a United Press International wire service teletype and a large tech center manned by our chief engineer.

Even though we were a carrier-current outlet, we had listeners and national advertising through the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Co. in New York City. The year I was station manager, we had national advertising (including Coca Cola) and other national accounts, plus ads from local University Park businesses. We grossed $2,000 in revenue that year.

A daily program schedule included music, news and other segments, including a “first-nighter” program featuring interviews with audience members at opening night of DU theater department productions. We had graduated from popular bebop music to even more popular Hit Parade melodies that went on to become standards, plus recorded classical music and Broadway show tunes. “Those Two” was a popular comedy program featuring two of our KVDU staffers.

My KVDU experience, and my classroom work at DU, permitted me to enjoy a 25-year career in radio and television in Denver and here in Maine, where for more than a decade I was the top-rated television news anchor and political reporter for Portland television station WGAN-TV, the local CBS affiliate. My journalism degree (with a radio-TV minor) from DU has allowed me to not only enjoy a career in broadcasting, but to establish and operate a public relations shop for 15 years while continuing as a freelance journalist and photographer.




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