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'She really took some big risks': Idaho's first television station brought to life by Georgia Davidson

In 1952, the FCC lifted its freeze on new television stations in the U.S. That same year, Notus' own Georgia Davidson filed to bring television news to Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — In a time when women weren't necessarily welcomed into boardrooms, Georgia Davidson bucked the trend by becoming one of the only women to own a television station after the FCC lifted its freeze on new television stations in 1952. 

Davidson was born Georgia Marie Newport in Notus, Idaho, in May 1907.

"She had wonderful wisdom," Davidson's granddaughter, Kristi McEntee said. "Very compassionate, very kind. She also had a wonderful sense of humor."

She went on to attend the University of Oregon in Eugene, where she met her future husband, Curtis 'Kiddo' Phillips.

During a trip to visit her parents in 1928, they noticed an ad in the local newspaper, listing 'KFAU,' a radio station, for sale.

They placed the winning bid and relocated to Boise to run it, eventually changing the call letters to KIDO-AM.

In 1942, Kiddo died of a heart attack, leaving Davidson a widow with two young girls.

"She was a very happy woman, even with the sudden death of her first husband," McEntee said.

In 1946, she remarried Boise businessman R. Mowbray Davidson, officially becoming Georgia Davidson.

"The two of them were a wonderful pair," McEntee said. "They just took pleasure in each other. They took pleasure in family. Family was important to both of them."

The grandkids called him 'Grandpa Moeb.'

McEntee said growing up, she would spend a lot of time at the Davidson home on Warm Springs Avenue in Boise and remembers some unusual visitors.

"They always had peacocks there, which were interesting," she said. "I mean she didn't bring them in. They just were there, which is kind of funny when she joined NBC."

In 1952, Davidson filed with the FCC to bring a television station to Idaho.

In 1953, that application was accepted, and KIDO-TV was born, eventually going on the air on July 12, 1953, as an NBC affiliate.

At NBC network meetings, Davidson would be one of the only women in the room, which often featured more than 120 men.

"Women, you know, at the table, and kind of in those big rooms, if you think about what NBC was like at that time in the 50s, they were a couple of very few – if not the only women – that were really there and present," current KTVB President and General Manager Jessica Hagan said.

"She had wonderful support from the men in the community," McEntee said. "They had a wonderful network and they would bounce ideas off each other and she was the only female in the group."

In 1956, Davidson hired a familiar face, her son-in-law, Bob Krueger.

Krueger married Davidson's daughter, Betty, in 1951.

Krueger met Betty and Georgia in McCall when Kruger was working at the boat docks at the Shore Lodge.

"Betty invited me up to their cabin to have dinner one night, and I went up there for dinner and she was fixing chip beef," Kruger said. "I was sitting on their patio overlooking the lake when she came up, she had tears flowing down her cheeks, and I said, 'what's wrong?' She said, 'the chipped beef, is – it's just stiff.' Well, I went into the kitchen and looked at it, and they could have sold that recipe to Elmer's glue. You could put a spoon in there and it would just stick right straight up. So, I took her and said, 'come on.' We went down to a place right across the street from the Shore Lodge called Glenn's Kitchen, and we had a hamburger. That was my introduction to meeting Georgia Davidson."

Krueger said Davidson invited him back to their McCall cabin a few days later.

"We had steaks on the barbecue. I'll never forget it, just the three of us," he said. "And so she made up for the goof up on the chipped beef." 

In 1959, three years after Krueger was hired, Davidson called him into her office.

"She asked me to shut the door, and I thought, 'oh, I'm gonna get fired or whatever's going on,'" Krueger said. "Tears started streaming down her cheeks, and I thought, 'what, what's happened?' She looked at me and she said, I've got to sell KIDO radio.'"

Davidson immediately told Krueger, "'I believe in television, and I need the money out of KIDO radio to keep this going.'" 

"She really took on some big risks and I have tremendous respect and admiration for that," Hagan added.

So, Davidson sold KIDO-AM to a man by the name of Bill Boeing Jr., the son of the founder of Boeing Aircraft.

Soon after, she went part-time and began spending a lot of time outdoors.

"She would take us to the reservoir up in McCall," McEntee said. "She taught us how to catch trout and she taught us how to clean the trout."

Davidson was also an avid skier and golfer.

"She always kept some clubs and balls, and she would go up at Hillcrest and hit some balls," McEntee said. "She always kept in her trunk a fly-fishing rod and a regular fishing pole and pan for gold. She would leave and occasionally go up and fish, pan for gold."

When she was at work, KTVB employees called Georgia 'Mrs. Davidson' while at work.

"That's part of her being proper," McEntee said. "I mean, it was a very comfortable work environment, but yet it was very – you had your boundaries."

When McEntee came to work for the station, she said Davidson gave her one specific guideline:

"When I did start work here, God bless her, [Davidson] said, 'don't you dare call me grandma!'"

So, she called her 'Gigi.' 

In 1980, Davidson sold KTVB to Dorothy Bullitt, the owner of KING Broadcasting in Seattle.

"I think a big part of that was the admiration that they had for each other, the mutual respect, that they were both women well ahead of their time," Hagan said.

Davidson passed away in 1997 at the age of 89.

She paved the way for future generations of female leaders at KTVB.

"To work at a station that really has had fantastic female leadership, and it even started with female leadership," KTVB's Director of Content Lisa Chavez said. "I was hired by a female news director when I don't think there were that many, and to be able to grow and be supported and be inspired is just not something that you get everywhere. Knowing it started with her just means a lot."

"I think Georgia's legacy at Channel 7 is really that deep commitment and service to the community, that idea that we can be a part of what helps connect people, that we can really help bring people shared understanding, that we can help shine a light on things that maybe were in the shadows," Hagan said. "That commitment to community has been a part of News Channel 7 since day one, and I think that all started with Georgia."

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