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'He was the gold standard for journalism in Idaho': How Sal Celeski helped KTVB bring local news into focus

Celeski started with KTVB as a photographer and editor, and became news director in the early 1970s.

BOISE, Idaho — For the most part, it's the anchors, reporters, meteorologists and sportscasters you see on your screen when you tune in to KTVB.

However, there are so many people who work behind the scenes to make everything happen: editors, photographers, producers, directors, production assistants. The list goes on and on.

And then there are the people in charge of the newsroom: the managing editor, the executive producer and the news director.

For KTVB's 70th anniversary, we've spoken with several people who have worked at the station at some point over the last 70 years.

During all our interviews, one name continued to be brought up: Sal Celeski.

Referred to by some as the "father of Idaho journalism," Celeski came to KTVB after serving in the Air Force and working as a photographer at the Idaho Transportation Department.

He was hired as a photographer at KTVB in the 1960s under general manager Robert E. Krueger.

Celeski was also an editor, and later became KTVB's news director in the early 1970s.

"He was a visionary. He broke stories like crazy," said Rod Gramer, former KTVB news director and Idaho Statesman reporter. "Those of us on the print side, we're always competing with Sal."

"I could come down here on Saturday mornings, which I did frequently, and Celeski was always here," Krueger said. "I mean, he was just working and working and working."

During his nearly two-decade tenure, Celeski changed the philosophy at KTVB, shifting the focus to local news.

He also began incorporating what was then considered new technology, which helped set the station apart from competitors.

"He was the gold standard of journalism in Idaho for broadcasters," Gramer said.

Celeski is credited with starting "Viewpoint" in the 1960s, which, to this day, is the longest-running public affairs program in the state of Idaho.

"Sal was, and is, the greatest broadcast journalist in Idaho history," Gramer said. "Channel 7 would not be what it is today without him."

He also hired several anchors longtime KTVB viewers would recognize, including Mark Johnson, Carolyn Holly and Dee Sarton.

"Sal had a very unique ability to find talented people," former sports director Larry Maneely said.

Celeski left the station in the 1980s and moved on to a career as a political consultant, working with both Republicans and Democrats.

Over the years, he kept in contact with not only his coworkers but other political sources. To this day, some still meet weekly for coffee to catch up.

In October 2021, Celeski passed away at the age of 87.

"We had probably three dozen come back for a reunion that we put together to kick off a scholarship fund at Boise State in his name, to do what we can to create opportunities to educate the next generation of Sal Celeskis," Maneely said.

The scholarship has raised more than $37,000 with the goal of raising $50,000.

In April, Boise State announced the Scholarship's first recipient: Andrea Teres-Martinez.

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