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News icon Bob Carroll’s lasting impact

By Steve Ranson
Bob Carroll began delivering the news at KOLO-TV in 1961.
Courtesy of KOLO.

Every Sunday night when I was on the highway from Carson City to Fallon, I would sink into the golden era of music and listen to Bob Carroll play the Music of America, popular tunes primarily from the 1940s and 50s on KUNR-FM radio.

Bob’s choice of music, though, resonated more with me two years ago for several reasons: The year marked the 75th anniversary of World War II’s end, and I was spending any — if not every— spare hour of the day writing World War II articles on veterans who visited Pearl Harbor on an Honor Flight Nevada trip and then proofreading the copy for a book that featured more than 70 Nevadans with ties to the war.

Although the song was sung by the English vocalist Vera Lynn (or Linn according to other entries) in 1942, Bob played “The White Cliffs of Dover” on his May 10 program. The Germans surrender to end the war occurred on May 8, 1945. Bob’s choice of song on this night two years ago returned his listeners to both a tumultuous time in our world’s history but also, at the same time, to a happier time when the fighting stopped.

There’ll be bluebirds over

The white cliffs of Dover

Tomorrow, just you wait and see

                  • • • • •

There’ll be love and laughter

And peace ever after

Tomorrow, when the world is free

                 • • • • •

The shepherd will tend his sheep

The valley will bloom again

And Jimmy will go to sleep

                • • • • •

In his own little room again

There’ll be bluebirds over

The white cliffs of Dover

Tomorrow, just you wait and see

               • • • • •

The shepherd will tend his sheep

The valley will bloom again

And Jimmy will go to sleep

In his own little room again

There’ll be bluebirds over

The white cliffs of Dover

Tomorrow, just you wait and see

My story, though, begins when I first met Bob in 1967 as a young 15-year-old who spent the summer volunteering and learning the television business at KTVN, Reno’s newest TV station, on Pine Street. The then 30-year-old Carroll had been hired from KOLO to be the news director and main anchor of Channel 2.

KTVN began broadcasting on June 3, 1967.

Additionally, Bob would also deliver the news on KCBN Radio, Reno’s top rock radio station, during the afternoon from a small booth next to the KTVN newsroom.

I learned many facets of the broadcasting business that summer. I learned how to shoot the 16mm camera for the news stories, edit the fil, and watch Bob and his staff prepare the news for the evening broadcasts. Occasionally, I would rip off news copy and record it like he did for KCBN, only to have Bob critique the delivery.

During that summer 45 years ago, Bob had a young reporter, a graduate of Chico State, work with me on the stories. Bill Romano and I had some interesting shoots from attending a function at millionaire Charlie Steen’s house in Washoe Valley to musicals groups flying into Reno to other news worthy events. In rock music, 1967 was the summer of love.

Bill and I told Bob about an incident at the Reno airport, which left the newsroom in uncontrollable laughter. We were waiting for a rock group named Moby Grape that was gaining a reputation for its psychedelic music and strong following. Pop singer Trini Lopez, who flew into Reno to appear at Harrah’s, walked over to us and asked how we were doing and what all the fuss was about with the screaming teenagers. Bill told him we were waiting for Moby Grape, to which Trini replied, “What the F… is a Moby Grape?”

For those three months, I also worked under the tutelage of one of Reno’s best-known news and features still photographers, Don Dondero, who was also shooting film for the station.

Bob also allowed me to shoot film for the t.v. station’s sports director, Jackie Jensen, a former Boston Red Sox player and University of California athlete. Instead of driving to a shoot in a KTVN vehicle, Jackie always insisted on taking his sportscar, a two-seat Porsche with the top down.

I pursued my broadcasting dream when Bob Stoddard of KBET Radio, who was also a part owner of KTVN,  hired me as a weekend radio announcer in April 1968. Over time, I delivered the news on Saturday morning and then during the week in absence of Bob Stoddard. From time to time, I would stop in at KTVN, and Carroll continued to be a mentor by giving me tips on delivering the news and writing for impact.

In the mid-1970s, my former wife, who was also a UNR journalism graduate, and I headed to Wyoming where I wrote magazine and news articles for Wyoming Wildlife as well as producing and broadcasting a weekly radio program to the former Intermountain Radio Network than spanned 10 states. We returned to Reno where Marilyn eventually worked for Bob and Dan Gustin at Media Consultants, an advertising and public relations firm in Reno. Across the city, I was hired by KCRL (now KRNV) as a weekday news producer and weekend newscaster.

Needless to say, I later entered education and the newspaper business although I dabbled in some television overseas with the military TV stations at Yongsan Army Garrison Korea in 1984 and in Panama in 1985 and 1986. Print, though, became my passion, and television news was a dream in the rear-view mirror.

In later years, I saw Bob every so often in Fallon. His daughter Sherry, who passed away in 2009, lived here with husband David and three children.  Bob visited Fallon from time to time, and his grandson Hadley told me Bob would watch the grandchildren play ball or compete in rodeo. 

Bob was an icon in news broadcasting for more than 60 years: He was Mr. Reno from the time he began delivering the news on KOLO-TV in 1961 to his last show on KUNR. 

Indeed, it was not a coincidence that this great Reno broadcaster also enjoyed playing music from one of the greatest eras of music.

Today, as I look back at Bob’s influence, it’s difficult not to think of that “sentimental journey.”

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