By Gary Avey, Chico, CA
Russell Bryan Pope, a pioneer in radio and television, died on May 2, 2012 in Berry Creek, Calif., he was 95.
Mr. Pope was the long time Director of Engineering for Golden Empire Broadcasting Co., owned for several decades by the McClung family. The company owned KHSL-AM and TV in Chico. He retired in 1995 after 54 years with the company. He was the company’s President and Director of Engineering when he stepped down.
Even after his retirement, Russell continued to do consulting work for the company that purchased KHSL-TV in Chico. He was well known across the country in the industry as a top notch engineering mind. Mr. Pope served as an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the National Association of Broadcasters, having chaired the NAB conference committee four times; and the Satellite Frequency Coordination Committee.
The McClung family, at one time, owned or had part interest in several radio stations stringing from Longview, Washington to Redding, Chico, Watsonville and Merced in California. Russell Pope was head of engineering for all these stations.
The Merced station, KYOS, went on the air in 1936 and was owned by the McClung’s until 1953. Mr. Pope coordinated the effort to increase the power of KYOS to 5,000 watts and move to 1480 KCs in the late 40s. The station, up to that time, had been a low power 250 watt station on 1040 KHz. He designed the complex directional antenna system utilizing 3 towers that aimed KYOS’s night time power to the west protecting other radio stations on the same frequency to the east of California. The transmitter location remained at the same place some 9 miles north of Merced on Old Lake Rd. near Yosemite Lake until 2017 when the building was leveled and the station move to a new transmitting site.
The McClung’s decided in 1953, with Mr. Pope’s encouragement, to take the plunge into television by building KHSL-TV channel 12 in Chico. Mr. Pope completely rebuilt the transmitter plants and increased the power for two other McClung owned stations, KHSL-AM in Chico and KVCV-AM in Redding. He also built some of the first FM stations in California in the late 40s at Merced, Chico and Redding.
I worked under and with Russell Pope for over 30 years at KHSL-AM and KHSL-TV in Chico. He had a keen engineering mind and was a very kind and good man. Much of the information in this article came from my years of knowing and working with Russell and from his telling the many stories of his long and varied career.
He is survived by two sons, a daughter and by 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. He married Forest Helen Moore in 1941 in South Pasadena, CA. She died in 1997. He is survived by their children: Ron Pope of Normal, IL, Kathy Main of Chico, CA;…
His two sons followed their dad into the electrical engineering field.
Gary Avey – May 24, 2012