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By Craig Adams

 Portland Broadcast Historian


On the right side of the microphone is KEX announcer Bill Ross in 1938. He would later work for KALE & KSLM.


The first broadcast of the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade was on Monday, June 10, 1929. KGW was the first station to begin this tradition, when it began coverage at 2:00 PM to 4:00  PM from Multnomah Stadium (PGE Park).  Sid Goodwin was the announcer. He was KGW's Sports Announcer and had been previously at Meier & Frank's KFEC as Program Director and earlier, KTBR's Chief Announcer.  

In the second year of broadcast coverage on Friday, June 13, 1930 KGW reduced the program by an hour, 2:15 PM to 3:15 PM. Sid Goodwin was back as the announcer from Multnomah Stadium. 

On Friday June 12, 1931 KOIN became the second station to broadcast the Rose Festival Parade: "Art Kirkham chief announcer for KOIN will review the parade from a vantage point in The Journal building giving intimate details of each float as it turns from Yamhill Street to Broadway. Special lines installed in The Journal building for this purpose, will be used. Kirkham will have several assistants covering sidelight of the parade and a special microphone will pick up crowd noises and band music." (The Journal 6-11-31)  The parade was on KOIN 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM. 

"KXL also announces a broadcast of the parade from a downtown location.  Rollie Truitt will be at the microphone." (The Journal 6-11-31) At the time Rollie Truitt was KXL Program Director, Chief Announcer & Sports Announcer. KXL broadcast the parade 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. 

In 1932 the June 17th (Friday) The Rose Festival Parade was only covered by KOIN  for 45 minutes 2:15 PM to 3:00 PM with Captain Dobbsie & Art Kirkham.  

1933 saw The Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade first broadcast on a radio network. The Don Lee Broadcasting System carried the parade to its western stations via KOIN on Friday June 9th 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. "Art Kirkham & Gene Baker alternating at the microphone. For two hours the description will be released to stations of the DLBS chain." (The Journal 6-8-33) 

On Thursday June 14, 1934 KOIN was once again the only station to carry a parade broadcast 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM with Art Kirkham as announcer. 


In 1935 the Parade was back on a Friday which was June 7th and KOIN had competition. KEX, which was KGW's sister, broadcast the "Rose Festival Floral Parade" 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM.  No announcer given. KOIN's broadcast 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM was sponsored by The Texaco Oil Company. 

1936 saw KEX expand its coverage with a preview of the parade activities at 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM on Friday June 12th. KEX's Texaco sponsored Floral Parade broadcast began at 10:30 AM and ended at Noon. KOIN's broadcast with Art Kirkham was on 10:30 AM to Noon.  

KEX continued to expand its parade coverage in 1937 broadcasting on June 11th 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, ceremonies at Multnomah Stadium "Formation of the Grand Floral Parade: Bill Ross, Don Austin, Homer Welch at the mikes." Then 10:30 AM to Noon "The Grand Floral Parade: Picked up from the stadium, where there will be three announcers.  Pickup point also at Broadway and Alder, where announcers Rollie Truitt, Phil Irwin, and Chet Huntley are at the mikes, making a total of seven announcers, not including special commentators and contact men." (The Oregonian 6-11-37) Side note on the announcers: Bill Ross is Bill Minckler's father. Rollie Truitt had joined KEX as The Voice of The Portland Beavers while Chet Huntley would eventually join with David Brinkley on NBC-TV's Huntley-Brinkley Report.  

With so many announcers on KEX, KOIN shouted in its Journal ad after mentioning Art Kirkham with "THE MOST COMPLETE FESTIVAL COVERAGE EVER PRESENTED. SEE ALL THE EVENTS YOU CAN... HEAR THE REST ON... KOIN, Presented by Texaco." KOIN's coverage ran from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.(The Journal 6-10-37) 

In 1938 Art Kirkham shared the mike with Stan Church on KOIN June 10th.  "Church will review events from the broadcasting booth in the Civic Stadium as the parade begins. From a vantage point at Southwest Broadway and Salmon Street, Kirkham will describe each float as it passes." Coverage on KOIN began at 10:30 AM and ran until 11:30 AM. (The Journal 6-9-38) 

"The Oregonian" stations KGW & KEX split up the coverage in 1938. KGW started with a preview of the Grand Floral Parade 8:00AM to 8:15 AM. KEX covered the parade 9:30 AM to Noon. "KEX has a regular network of remote pickup wires and a bunch of announcers to man them. It's by far the most complete coverage of The Rose Parade to be aired."  (The Oregonian 6-10-38)  

1939 saw the second time The Grand Floral Parade was carried on a network Friday June 9th when the Mutual Broadcasting System picked up the program via KALE 11:00AM to 11:30AM. KALE's sister KOIN had carried the Rose Festival Parade assembling from 9:30AM to 10:00AM.  

KEX had its announcers fanned out all over the parade route. "At the stadium: Don Kneass, Bill Mock and Phil Irwin. 6th and Alder: Bob Tomlinson who will be on the street with Bill Ross who will be stationed in a window of The Oregonian Building." KEX parade coverage ran from 9:45 AM to 12:30 PM. (The Oregonian 6-9-39) 

On Friday June 7, 1940 Parade coverage was on KEX 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. KALE 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM. 

1941 and The Journal stations, KOIN & KALE were teaming up with coverage. KALE carried The Grand Floral Parade from the Stadium 9:00 AM to 9:30 AM.  KOIN broadcast the Parade at 10:00 AM to 10:15 AM, then from 11:30 to 11:45 AM. "Johnny Carpenter and Art Kirkham act as your binoculars trained on the Big Parade. Johnny Carpenter will broadcast from viewpoints along the parade route." (The Journal 6-12-41) 

The June 13th Parade was also carried by KWJJ at 11:00 AM. KEX had the earliest coverage with its "Pre-Parade Description" 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM. (The Oregonian 6-13-41)  

Rose Festival celebrations in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945 were suspended during WORLD WAR II.

On Friday June 7, 1946 The Grand Floral Parade was back and so was the radio coverage by KEX 10:30 AM to Noon. KOIN & KALE were now competitors, both covering the parade 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM.  

1947 saw KALE back June 13th with Bill Ross and his crew describing the parade from the Oriental Theatre marquee 11:00AM to 11:30AM.  KGW previewed "the shaping up of the parade at Holladay Park" 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM with announcers Bob Tomlinson, Phil Irwin & Wayne Roberts.  "KEX covers the parade from all angles 10:00 AM to 11:15 AM.  Barney Keep flies over the parade while Paul Crain & Sherman Washburn pour forth adjectives from the east side terra firma."  (The Journal 6-12-47)  KOIN transcribed the program for a 4:30 PM to 4:55 PM broadcast when CBS clearance wasn't possible.

ROSE FESTIVAL TRIVIA: The 1947 song "For You A Rose In Portland Grows" was written by Art Kirkham (lyrics) and music by Alfie Rutherford (of Rutherford's Root Beer fame). The song was featured in the 1948 Festival. 

The First Television broadcast of The Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade was on Friday June 12, 1953 when KPTV channel 27 began coverage from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. It was sponsored by First National Bank. Radio continued to cover the parade as well: KGW 9:15 AM to 10:30 AM.  KEX 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. KPOJ 10:15 AM to Noon.


Craig Adams researched The Oregonian’s archives and found the following articles:

From The Sunday Oregonian - June 7, 1936

New Portland Rose Song Given Festival Group by KGW and KEX

"Roses Are Blooming Again," the light airy spring type of song composed by Merton H. Bories, recently appointed production manager [May 1st] of radio stations KGW and KEX, has been presented to the Royal Rosarians and the 1936 Rose Festival officials with the compliments of the radio stations and The Oregonian.

The song, which was inspired by the beauty of nature's bequests to Portland and the annual bloom pageantry, was heard first over KGW Tuesday night [June 2nd]. It was played Wednesday night by Dick Jurgens' orchestra at Jantzen Beach, and now goes to all the big network advertisers with the request that they salute Portland during the Rose Festival by including "Roses Are Blooming Again" on their programs.

Carey Jennings, manager of KGW and KEX, was deluged by requests from orchestra leaders in Oregon and Southwest Washington for copies of the song, but these could not be granted, as the song was dedicated to the Rose Festival. Words and music are presented in The Oregonian today for the first time.

Excerpt from "Behind The Mike" column. The Oregonian June 2, 1936

This is a year of innovations for the Rose Festival, but the one you'll probably be impressed with most via ear will have its beginning over KGW tonight at 9 o'clock. At that time The Oregonian and KGW-KEX will present a song to the Rose Festival association. It was written by Merton H. Bories, new production manager of KGW and KEX and composer of several big hits. One of his more recent tailor-made songs was "Ship Ahoy," written especially for Captain Dobbsie, but adopted by orchestras in general and frequently played by them over the networks today.

[The 30 minute program as called "KGW Presents Rose Festival Song"]

The Song Ceremony

The song will be presented by W. Carey Jennings, manager of The Oregonian's stations. Arthur L. Fields, president of the Rose Festival association, will make the speech of acceptance. Queen Janet, Richard W. Faville, Prime Minister Brous, Kenneth Poole and Clarence Porter will speak, inviting all to attend this year's festival.

The song will be sung as a solo, also by a quartet and the Rosarian Sextet, and The Oregonian orchestra, led by Abe Bercovitz, will play it too. Later in the evening, at 10:15 on KGW Dick Jurgen's orchestra at Jantzen Beach will broadcast it. The WPA Band will play it too. Tomorrow night on KGW,  Dick Jurgens orchestra at Jantzen Beach will broadcast it.

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A special word of thanks to Historian Craig Adams, Portland Radio DJ.


Last updated 10-24-16

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