Monday, February 16, 2009

Remembering Freeman Hover

Long-time friend and mentor Freeman Hover passed last Monday (2/9/09) away in Tucson, Arizona. He was 79. A Memorial Mass will be held at noon on Monday, March 1, 2009, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Tucson, Arizona. That's the day Freeman would have turned 80 years old.

A warm and personable man, he was both a broadcaster and educator, professions that he pursued with great enthusiasm and commitment.

We first met "Free" in 1957, not long after he started his radio career at KCSR in Chadron, Nebraska, just a year or so before I began working at the same station. A native of Plymouth, Michigan, Freeman Hover earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Denver in 1951. By the mid-1950s, he was pursuing his first broadcast job at KCSR in Chadron.

As was true for most radio folk in small market stations, Freeman Hover did it all. He was News Director at KCSR, but he had a wide range of interests in broadcasting -- one of them was "Top 40" music. He hosted "Club 949" (the station's Post Office box number) and "Top 40 Time." He became well known throughout the region, but decided to pursue opportunities elsewhere when the station was sold in 1959 to Huse Publishing out of Norfolk, Nebraska.

After a short stint in North Dakota, Hover headed toward the desert southwest and a job with the Doubleday station in Phoenix. Having earned a Master's degree from the University of Colorado, he turned his attention to education and became a classroom teacher. He eventually settled in Tucson. By all accounts, he was a top flight teacher, and he eventually won a spot in the Arizona Journalism Hall of Fame.

We have fond memories of visiting Freeman in Tucson in the late 1980s and again in the 1990s while attending public broadcasting meetings there. His love for history and the southwest was obvious, as was his pride for having been involved in the "rock and roll" era. While at KCSR, he had conducted a rare interview with the legendary Buddy Holly and a number of other popular artists of the time, including Eddie Cochran and Jimmy Bowen.

We remember Freeman as a kind and generous individual, and he certainly was an inspiration to me and many aspiring broadcasters and journalists who had the good fortune to cross paths with him.

You'll find a full obituary for Freeman Hover in the Arizona Daily Star.

Below is a short video tribute to Freeman, recognizing his time with KCSR in Chadron, Nebraska, where he left a legacy of many friends......and even more memories.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Biker Bill changes media

We were pleasantly surprised to be able to catch up with an old broadcasting friend the other day.

Bill Campbell and his wife Katherine Ann changed ZIP codes last year, moving from Montana to northern California. A veteran broadcaster from West Virginia, Bill and I first crossed paths about 25 years ago when Bill was managing a station in the Idaho Public Television network, and I was with South Dakota Public Broadcasting. I've followed his career with great interest as he took over the public TV station in Medford, Oregon, where he retired a few years back.

His move to Montana soon found Bill bicycling more and becoming heavily involved in Rotary, ending his stint as District Governor just last year. It was during their Montana residency that Bill biked from White Sulphur Springs, Montana, to Chicago, Illinois. Karen and I met him in Bowman, North Dakota for a short visit with a side trip to Medora for dinner. Some months later, Bill and I biked the 109-mile Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills of South Dakota. We had great fun, and it certainly gave this old soul a bunch of fond memories!

The photo at right was taken in October 2006 at the outset of our trek from Deadwood to Edgemont. "Biker Bill" is on the left. My bride, Karen, hauled us to the starting line and provided some much-appreciated trail support when we ran in to difficulty near Hill City.....but that's another story!

A note this holiday season from Bill and Katherine Ann Campbell told of their move to northern California, and one of Bill's latest pursuits: newspaper columnist! Although it's a rarity in these tough days for newspapers, the Inter Mountain News posts all of its old issues on the web, and they're accessible for free! Thus, I've been able to catch up on Bill's activities. The column is not simply a bicycling column, but a chronicle of many items of interest in the "Inter Mountain" region of northern California.

I check up on Bill from time to time by visiting the The Inter Mountain News website and clicking on the front page image. Scroll down to find the "Biker Bill" column. It's a good read!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Remembering Whitmore....and Truman!

Actor James Whitmore died Friday (2/6/09) at his Malibu, California home. He was 87.

We’ve written about Whitmore a couple of times over the past two years – admiring his unbridled enthusiasm and his seemingly boundless talents on stage and in television and film. I’ll never forget seeing his wonderful performance at the Oklahoma State University Seretean Center in the 1970s. I described that event in
this 2007 posting.

As I started poring through the wealth of materials now available on-line about Whitmore, I came across one video in particular that caught my attention. It was not just Whitmore, but his 1975 characterization of President Harry S. Truman that caught my attention.

It allowed me to remember the plain-spoken style of “Give ‘em Hell Harry.” And while I anticipated a pleasant trip down memory lane as I watched the video – enjoying the dramatic skills of James Whitmore and appreciating the outspoken style of President Truman – I wasn’t prepared for the relevancy of his message.

Although uttered more than a half century ago during the 1946 rail strike, the words attributed to Truman about the economy and the role of so-called “expert” economists still ring true. It’s enough to cause a bit of a chuckle……quickly followed by the realization that Harry probably had it right.

Take a moment to admire the talent of Whitmore……and the wisdom of Truman!