BOISE, Idaho — We dedicate this Part 1 of KTVB's 70th Anniversary series to our late friends and beloved coworkers, Larry Gebert (1956-2022) and Theresa "T" Palmgren (1981-2023).
Idaho's very first news station, KTVB News Channel 7, is celebrating 70 years of being on the air and serving the community in 2023.
Over the next several months, our team is highlighting the stories, the people and the breaking news that KTVB is honored to have been entrusted with for 70 rewarding years.
From where we have been, to where we are going, we here at KTVB share the history of our station and the pivotal decisions that have been instrumental to our success.
We share the perspectives of some of the most impactful people who helped us achieve this milestone. Some, you may recognize, others you may not, and we can't wait to share these stories and our journey with you.
While the news station has had different call letters, names, changes of venue and ownership, the heart of KTVB has remained unchanged.
On July 12, 1953, KIDO-TV (eventually KTVB) went on the air at 2 p.m. for the very first time.
It Began with a Bid
The 1950s may have been the birth of the television station; however, its conception actually happened in 1928 with a student-run radio station at Boise High School called 'KFAU.'
KFAU gained so much popularity, so rapidly, that it wasn’t long before the expenses grew beyond the budget of the small-scale operation.
So, the school district decided to put the radio station up for sale.
The district placed an ad in the local newspaper. It caught the attention of Curtis Philips and his wife, Georgia, as they were visiting Georgia's parents in Parma.
Philips, who co-owned an existing radio station in Eugene, Oregon, put in a bid and won.
The Philips's moved to Boise to run the radio station, eventually going on air on Nov. 5, 1928, under the new call letters KIDO-AM.
For more than a decade, Curtis and Georgia expanded the station, gaining the trust of the community while simultaneously evolving its technological capabilities to transmit the radio broadcast farther and farther from the station’s once-limited radius.
In 1944, Curtis Philips died suddenly from a heart attack, leaving Georgia a widow with two young daughters – and a radio station.
Georgia persevered as a single mother and continued to operate KIDO-AM on her own until 1946, when she married Boise businessman R. Mowbray Davidson.
In 1952, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifted its pause on the development of new television stations - a pause that was established in 1948 due to the influx of TV licenses granted prior to 1948, of which created conflicts with the radio frequencies and signals.
This was the defining moment when Georgia Davidson seized an opportunity and ended up creating a legacy. Davidson filed for the permit to create what would end up being Idaho’s very first television station.
One year later, on July 12, 1953, KIDO-TV went on the air in what was the Gem State’s first televised broadcast.
A TV station was born, a radio station was sold and the adoption of 'KTVB'
The KIDO-TV studio was located at the top of Crestline Drive in the north Boise Foothills.
Legend has it that on that summer day of July 12, 1953 – the station's first scheduled TV broadcast – it was so hot outside that the equipment at the station was overheating.
So someone at the station went to every store in Boise to buy every fan they could with the idea of physically cooling the machinery at the studio.
The launch was a success. In attendance for the broadcast was Idaho's own Philo Farnsworth, dubbed the 'father of television’ and a very significant figure in the news and communications industry.
By 1955, KIDO-TV had seven on-air anchors to deliver Idaho’s news (in hindsight, a coincidental nod to KTVB News Channel’s significant number ‘7’).
Georgia Davidson’s ownership of KIDO made her one of only three female station owners in the NBC network. Alongside her was Dorothy Bullitt, friend and owner of future sister station, KING-TV in Seattle.
In 1959, Davidson sold her radio station, KIDO-AM. However, she kept the televised news division, KIDO-TV.
Davidson later rebranded the station with the call letters K-T-V-B.
A move, another sell, an acquisition and the internet
That same year of 1959, Georgia Davidson hired Bob Krueger to be KTVB's first general manager and vice president. Davidson also hired Sal Celeski, dubbed “the father of Idaho journalism," as KTVB's first news director.
In 1971, the studio relocated to its current building on Fairview Avenue, formerly the grounds of the Western Idaho Fair.
Nine years later in 1980, Georgia Davidson decided to sell KTVB, as a whole, to Dorothy Bullitt, the owner of King Broadcasting in Seattle.
Georgia remained involved, but Bob Krueger formally spearheaded the operations of the station.
In 1986, KTFT in Twin Falls began operating under the KTVB newsgroup brand, serving as an off-shoot of KTVB, but with greater localization and consideration for Magic Valley viewers.
This adoption of KTFT expanded KTVB's audience reach from eastern Oregon to eastern Idaho.
The reach exploded once again in 1996 with the launch of the internet and the website, KTVB.COM. The site is now one of the most visited news websites in the state of Idaho.
A legacy, leadership and unique dedication
Georgia Davidson died in 1997 at the age of 89. But it is what she created and what left behind that is a legacy unmatched.
Throughout News Channel 7's 70 years, the station has only ever had four general managers - a prodigious achievement and unheard-of statistic for the news industry, where the average turnover rate for a general manager is every 36 months.
KTVB's consistent leadership over 70 years - Bob Krueger (1956-1972), Doug Armstrong (1972-2018), Kate Morris (2018-2020) and current general manager, Jessica Hagan (2020-present)
"To me, local television is built around its news..e continually expanded our news from where we started with 15 minutes of just local news and look where we are today." - Bob Krueger
"You know, it is a complex business. The public sees our news. They see that in their living rooms. They see it on their iPads and on their computer desktop. But it takes a lot to bring that to the public. I think the thing that we're most proud of is that we care about this community and make the bottom line of this organization all about building a stronger community, and if we get that right, everything else will take care of itself." - Doug Armstrong
"KTVB has been the top-rated news station for more than 30 years and that legacy is in excellent hands with a strong leadership team. The people behind KTVB are dedicated to providing top-quality news, dynamic solutions to help grow businesses, but most importantly they are committed to building a stronger community." - Kate Morris
Continued growth and service to our community - The 208, Idaho Today and KTVB en Español
In 2020, KTVB launched The 208 - a news segment that delivers coverage on important local matters using a long-form, investigative and conversational format.
In 2021, Idaho Today was launched - a lifestyle and talk show, highlighting the people and topics that make the Gem State just that, a gem.
In 2021, KTVB launched KTVB en Español - to provide news coverage to Idaho's Spanish-speaking community.
KTVB Idaho's News Channel 7's commitment and mission
We here are KTVB hope that when you think of Channel 7, you think of a trusted source for news, a team of people who care, and quality coverage and representation.
We love what we do - and we love our viewers. We are grateful that for 70 years, KTVB has been trusted to inform, entertain and be there for you.
We hope that for the next 70 years, we can help our community be a happy and hopeful one.
We promise to maintain our unwavering commitment to the community of which we serve, the accuracy of the information we provide and to share the stories that matter.
We will acknowledge our mistakes and we will correct them. We will educate and inform the public with the facts. We will provide the resources our community needs to be the best Idaho it can be.
Through consistency, fairness, transparency and authenticity, we will deliver the news.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist: