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Front Page » July 7, 2011 » Senior Focus » An original on the air
Published 1,204 days ago

An original on the air


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

There is only one media outlet in Castle County that nears the longevity of the Sun Advocate and that is KOAL radio. At 75 years, what began as KEUB is still on the air.

And for Tom Anderson that station, and the other two that are on the air as part of Eastern Utah Broadcasting have been his life.

Anderson has owned and operated the stations for nearly 40 years and it all began because Neil Warren, his speech instructor at the then College of Eastern Utah got him a part time job in the summer of 1958.

"Neil got me the job and I started working right away in the station doing various kinds of things," said Anderson late last month as he sat in his desk at his other business in town, Price Travel. "That's where it began."

But there is more to the story about that beginning, more than has been told before. Anderson moved to Carbon County when he was seven years old, in 1947, with his widowed mother. She taught school and Anderson went to school and graduated from Carbon High.

But something happened that would change his life forever when he was 17. His mother died and he had become an orphan.

It was then that he needed money and Warren found him the job with Jack and Rita Richards who owned KOAL.

"They had no children, and I had no parents," said Anderson. "It was just one of those things where it kind of fit."

Not long after that Anderson went away to college at the University of Utah. Richards knew Slim Wycoff, who owned a trucking company in Salt Lake and arranged for a job for Tom while he was in school.

Following Anderson's graduation in 1965 with a BS in Marketing, Anderson, the young graduate, returned to Price to serve as salesman/manager for Richards. At that time, Jack was 70 years old.

Rita Richards died in 1971 and Jack continued in the station but with less involvement than before. In 1980 when Jack was 85 and Tom was 40, Jack legally adopted Tom.

"No kidding," said Anderson as he described the scene at the adoption hearing. "Christine Durham (now on the Utah State Supreme Court) sat there and looked at an 80 year old man wanting to adopt a 40 year old man and she said 'Are you guys sure you want to do this?'"

Richards died in 1986 at the age of 90.

Along the way Anderson got married in 1966 to Gigi, who now operates the travel agency, which they stated in 1974.

Anderson is very proud of Eastern Utah Broadcasting, and rightly so. It has grown from a little rural radio station that Richards and two partners developed to a three station powerhouse with KOAL still being the AM anchor, and two FM stations, KARB (country) and KRPX now adding more depth of field to the broadcast portfolio.

KOAL is a 10,000 watt station that went to a talk format in 1992. The radio station format has changed over the years.

"In the 1960's we used a block format (one during which certain parts of the day were dedicated to different kinds of music," said Anderson. "That ended in the late 1960's when we went to a kind of middle of the road format."

Anderson has been involved in many things in the county over the years, but one organization that is very close to his heart is the Kiwanis Club. His dedication to their causes for children is shown often and never more than in April of each year when the station donates a whole day of broadcasting to the locally well known Kiwanis Radio Auction. The club takes over the Castle County Radio studios all of one Sunday that month. That traditions started in 1967.

"I relate a lot to those guys and to the fact they serve children," said Anderson.

When asked about some of the things he remembers best about his life in Carbon County he of course talks about the Richards, who for all practical purposes adopted him a long time before he was 40, and his relationships with people in the community.

"It's interesting," said Anderson. "Some of the best times I remember was my relationshipwith Bob Finney (former owner and publisher of the Sun Advocate from 1966 into the 1980's) who was both a friend and a competitor."

Anderson was also the president of the Price Chamber of Commerce in the early 1970's which he said was a great experience.

Gigi and he raised two daughters (Kelly and Christina) and one son, Paul, who has now taken over the reigns of running the station along with his wife Ann.

"I still come to work every day though," said Anderson.

That is unless he is at his condo in St. George or traveling somewhere around the world.

This spring Anderson also received an award that meant a great deal to him: he was one of the original inductees into the Utah Broadcasters Hall of Fame. On May 10, he was inducted into the Utah Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame for his extensive contribution to small market radio. Anderson was inducted with two other individuals; Phil Riesen, longtime anchor, reporter and managing editor for KTVX TV, and the late, great sports talk radio reporter for KALL 700, Chris Tunis.

For many years KOAL was the only local station in the area. It served the area well through its Mine Report (a twice a day broadcast that let miners know if they were working at certain mines that day or not), its music (the only source of teenage music for years in the 50's) and its news service.

It was and is an orignal.

And so is Anderson.

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