Wednesday, June 04, 2014

This and That and Art and Kirkham

 Art Kirkham was a local Portland boy, born in 1905. He served in WWI and upon his return attended Oregon Agricultural College, in Corvallis.  there he sang in glee club which is how he later made his radio debut as a vocalist in 1922 on KGW-AM.  He sang there many times and that is how he began to get interested in announcing. KGW lacked any openings so he applied at KOAC-AM in 1926.

There in Corvallis he was an announcer, newscaster and sports commentator. He stayed on for three years , before joining KOIN-AM in 1928. Somehow he became program director a year later.  But he's still a minor character at this point in radio history. he had a nice baritone voice, but for most he was just a local announcer. that changed in 1932.

That year Kirkham took over the host chair on the afternoon program "Newspaper of The Air." It was a two hour program which mixed light commentary with news reports. This was a role more akin to the modern "news personality. Within the year he launched a morning news program with much less news and a lot more personality "This And That" debuted in October of 1932. The program was a mish-mosh of commentary, music, news, humor, chit-chat and bad poetry. It popular enough to have a book in 1939. In 1933 he joined the  real newscast of KOIN. Both programs continued for decades.

As KOIN grew and added television Kirkham's management repertoire expanded into a VP role and in sixties he finally dialed it back and started to take time off. In March of 1962 he took a leave of absence and did mostly fill-in work. He left his full-time on-air positions. Art Kirkham died in 1981, he was 84.