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Ray Thompson

Ray was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota, November 1, 1921, to Harald and Bertha Thompson. He was the first anchorman at KTVK, Channel 3 and the first news director/anchorman at KTAR, now KPNX, Channel 12, both of Phoenix. Later, Ray was promoted to Vice President of News at Channel 12. A member of the Arizona Broadcaster’s Association, “Hall of fame”, he was awarded six Emmy’s for achievement in news and documentaries while at KPNX, Channel 12. He was a member of both the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ “Silver and Gold Circles” in recognition of both, 25 and 50 years of service to the local industry and community. A founder and charter member of the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists…Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, Ray also served a term as a president. He also served as a founding member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He was awarded the Arizona Press Club “Distinguished Service Award” in 1981. Ray also authored two books, “And Finally” dealing with his broadcast recollections and humorous stories used at the end of his newscasts, and “Cactus Corners, Arizona” a humorous journey through a fictional Arizona town as a young radio newsman, in which he relates his experiences with colorful townsfolk and fellow broadcasters. He served several years as a member of the editorial advisory board of Phoenix Magazine and was a contributor of articles to that magazine. In 1976, he served on the City of Phoenix Bicentennial Committee. Later, he served as a member of the Board of “Friends of Arizona State University Libraries.” Ray started his career in Minnesota as a newspaper reporter. His first job was for a chain of weekly papers. After serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Ray sought a job in radio. Ray discovered the only opening was in engineering so he took a correspondence course and gained a first-class broadcast engineer’s license. He, then, found employment at KROC in Rochester as an engineer. Before long the station, recognizing his journalistic ability, named him KROC’s sportscaster and later news director. When KROC-TV went on the air in 1963 he became News Director and Anchorman. He also served as a stringer correspondent for the United Press and Newsweek Magazine and served as a president of the Northwest Radio News Association, with headquarters at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After retirement from TV, Ray served as Executive Producer of Samcor Video, a unit of the then…Good Samaritan Hospital Association. He also did freelance work as a writer-producer of monthly videos for Arizona Bank, Security Pacific and First Interstate Bank. In 1986, he produced a video magazine for Arizona Bank which was awarded, “Best National Corporate Video” in Public Relations Society of America competition. During the same period, he broadcast a daily program “This Day in Arizona History” on Radio Station KTAR. Ray passed away in 2012 at the age of 90.

Bill Thompson

Bill was born in New York City on Dec 18, 1931, the son of William and Marie Thompson and the eldest of three brothers. In 1934, the Thompsons moved to Bronxville, 20 miles north of New York City in Westchester County, where the three brothers — Bill, Boyce and Tony — attended school.

In first grade, Bill was a gingerbread man in the school’s production of “Hansel and Gretel.” His mother told him he was the best gingerbread man in the show. He believed her. As a result, many elementary, high school and college plays followed over the years. “I never knew my lines and never hit my spot-on stage, but I always managed to get a laugh and easily won the title of class clown form sixth grade on.” Being the class clown meant “going to the principal’s office a lot.” In seventh grade, Bill wrote a six-page vocational report in a green folder. The first sentence was, “I want to make people laugh.” The report went on to explain that he wasn’t sure if he would be a cartoonist, comedy writer or funny guy on the radio, little knowing he’d end up doing all three. He got a C-minus on the report and his teacher, Miss Wetzel, told him, “It’s time to get serious with your life.” ”If I had taken Miss Wetzel’s advice,” Thompson said, “I’d probably be selling vacuum cleaners at Sears.”

A pattern had been set. Through high school and later at DePauw University, he took all the courses he could on art, writing and performing — “any class I thought would help me later in a comedy career.” During the late ’40s, Thompson started writing kids’ stories featuring a character named Wallace Snead. Bill graduated from Bronxville High in 1950. The yearbook stated, “the class clown will be missed by his classmates, but not his teachers.” The next year at DePauw, he had a part in a Noel Coward play. “I was still missing my marks and forgetting my lines. By then I had perfected the art of wandering around stage and ad-libbing. Later on, Lad, Pat and I were to elevate this style of performing to a science.”

In 1952, Thompson married Donna Cope, headed west to Arizona and had three kids: Carrie, Annie and Tony. His first job in Phoenix was in the circulation department of The Phoenix Gazette, but every couple of months he would stop by KPHO-TV in the hopes of landing a job. In January 1954, KPHO hired him for two jobs. He began creating a character called Wallace Snead and appeared on “The Goldust Charlie Show.” In January 1955, “It’s Wallace?” premiered, a kid’s cartoon show. After a few months of going solo, Bill decided he needed a partner. In January 1956, Ladimir (Lad) Kwiatkowski joined him.

In the summer of 1956, the Wallace Watchers Fan Club was created. Through the 1960s, the show kept evolving. On June 15, 1970, the program officially became “The Wallace and Ladmo Show.” On April 3, 1974, the show celebrated its 20th anniversary. Through the 1970s, Bill and the cast won Emmys for their productions. On Dec. 29, 1989, the show went off the air. Bill spent his later years going to the movies and entertaining his grandchildren. Bill passed away on July 23, 2014, at age 82.

Larry Schnebly

Larry retired in 1994 after a long career in television management and broadcasting including early work for KGPH & KWRZ Radio in Flagstaff and ultimately retired from KGUN TV9, Tucson’s ABC affiliate in April 1994, after 34 years in varied areas from On-Air, to Sales Management, Production Manager and Program Director.

in Tucson. Larry also worked as the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, the editor of PINE and the Director of Housing for Northern Arizona University early in his career. Larry has received numerous honors and awards over the years including induction in both Silver and Gold Society of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, as well as induction into the Arizona Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame and the 1952 Gold Axe Award from NAU. He has organization affiliations including Grand Canyon Trust, Southern Arizona Roadrunners, and Adlerian Society of Arizona. He is president of the board for the Beckner Foundation and has co-hosted the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon since 1969. As he has for 50 years, Larry continues to speak publicly on topics related to media and communications. Larry and his wife Lee live in Tucson and have four children and three grandchildren.

Jack Parris

Jack Parris joined KUAT in 1988 as assistant general manager for the Video Services unit and became director and general manager in 1998.

Television and radio staff members won numerous local and regional awards under his leadership. Among many forward-thinking accomplishments, he oversaw the launch of the first digital television station in Southern Arizona, KUAS-DT.

In April 2005, Parris became the inaugural inductee into the Gold Circle Society of the National Television Academy, Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter. To be selected for the Gold Circle, individuals must have served in broadcasting for at least 50 years and have made major contributions to the industry. Parris was inducted into the Academy’s Silver Circle Society in April 2003 for his achievements during more than 25 years of broadcasting. In October 2003, the Arizona Broadcasters Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame.

He was a broadcaster continuously throughout his 51-year career, with 19 of those years spent in public broadcasting. Parris served as station and program manager at Tucson’s KGUN-TV from 1978 to 1983, and as the station’s general manager from 1983 through 1987. He began his broadcasting career in 1954 as a member of the student crew for the University of Nebraska’s public television station, KUON-TV.

Parris joined his first commercial station, KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Neb., in 1956. “Everybody wore a lot of hats in those days. We were inventing TV,” he said. “Everything was black and white. There was no videotape, and I remember when it was introduced. They wheeled in this big monster. In 1961, we got color videotape, and we thought we were big-time.”

He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Pacific Mountain Network Board of Directors and the Saint Luke’s in the Desert Board of Trustees.

Jack Miller

Jack Miller has been created Arizona’s soundtrack for more than 50 years. In the mid-1950’s Jack went to work at Ramsey’s Recording Studio in Phoenix as chief engineer and audio mixer. By playing with the audio equalization and running the sound through a 10,000-gallon water tank behind the studio, he was able to “shape” and “color” the music. It became the “Phoenix Sound” and a string of hits put the city, the studio and Jack on the industry’s map.

The success was Jack’s ticket to Hollywood and RCA’s Studio Center of the World. He mixed and produced records, commercials, movies and television shows for dozens of the biggest stars in the world: Henry Mancini, Dean Martin, Jefferson Airplane and The Rolling Stones.

After his stint and rising career, Jack wanted to return home to Phoenix. As Chief engineer and audio producer for Audio Recorders of Arizona, he was the first choice of every ad agency in town and made radio and TV commercials for Lou Grubb Chevrolet, Hallmark Homes, Bashas’ Markets and a hundred other advertisers.

In 1975, working with the engineering departments of KOOL-TV and Motorola, Jack produced the first quadraphonic audio broadcast in history. In 1977, he started his own Jack Miller Productions.

Jack was always a leader in audio technology. He was one of the first recording engineers in Arizona to adopt digital recording. Long before the major studios in Los Angeles and New York, Jack replaced tape recorders with computers.

In 2000, Jack Miller Productions merged with Canyon Records, one of the world’s premier producers of Native American Music. His work has been honored with a Grammy Award and five Grammy Nominations. Jack retired from Canyon Records in 2014 and passed away in 2016 at the age of 83.



Bill Miller

Bill Miller began his career in broadcasting in 1962 at KOOL-TV in Phoenix, where he started as a member of the floor crew and earned the then-minimum wage of $368 a month. Bill worked newscasts and live commercials in the studio and on an outdoor set that was used for car commercials. Over the next 24 years at KOOL, Bill worked a variety of jobs before becoming News Director. In 1986, Bill joined KTVK-TV as station manager and two years later was named vice president and chief operating officer. Bill was named president and general manager of KTVK in 1999. During his time at KTVK, Miller also managed KASW-TV (WB), the Arizona NewsChannel, a cable news joint venture with Cox Cable, KESZ-FM radio and Phoenix Magazine. When KTVK lost its network affiliation in 1994, Miller led the effort to transform KTVK into one of the more successful independent stations in the country. This included the creation of Good Morning Arizona, which quickly became the model for local TV morning shows throughout the country, as well as several locally produced programs,

Bill helped found MagicDust Television in 2000. Today, MagicDust produces RightThisMinute, Arizona’s first daily, nationally syndicated television show, which currently airs in 141 markets.

Bill has served on the ABC Affiliates Board, the Board of Directors of Northern Trust Bank and has served as board chairman of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Barrow Neurological Foundation and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

Larry Martel

Larry began his career as a radio announcer in Corning and Elmira, NY from 1956-1961, then moved to KPHO in radio and television in Phoenix. He was an inductee of the Gold Circle Society of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Larry was an exceptional writer, cartoonist and artist. His students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism benefitted from his passion for news writing.

Larry loved his holidays, especially Christmas. His exceptional artistic abilities led to the creation of the Pickwick Pussycats Christmas display enjoyed by many over the years. He also used his talents on Halloween pumpkins, Easter eggs and his cartoon lines, Axel and Mr. Ming. He volunteered for several charity events as an amateur demolition driver, parachute jumper, chasing greased pigs, cow dragging, chili judge and other sundry events. He lived with the homeless for a while to prepare a documentary about living on the streets. He never said no to a challenge. He served on boards for various non-profit organizations.

He gave his children an appreciation for music, arts, theater and movies and instilled in them their strong work ethic and value of education, not to mention his sense of humor and the joy of eloquent sarcasm. He loved his Superheroes, Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel and the rest. Larry was married to his wife, Carol for over 60 years, had 2 daughters and a son, along with many grandchildren & great-grandchildren. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 82.

Pat McMahon

If anyone ever told Pat McMahon, “You simply can’t do it all” he wasn’t listening! Pat McMahon’s career at KTAR radio spans over 30 years as award-winning talk show host of such memorable shows as, “The Pat McMahon Show”, “The McMahon Group” and “The God Show”, now on the Star Worldwide Networks.

Pat McMahon’s kaleidoscopic life has always been full. As a child he traveled the world with his show business family, which proved excellent training for his multi-faceted career as an actor with legends like Orson Welles, John Huston and Dick Van Dyke, a producer, recording artist, writer, broadcaster and one-third of the unforgettable comedy team that was the 35-year TV legend, “The Wallace and Ladmo Show” as well as Television Talk show Host for KAZ-TV where Pat hosts a stimulating live daily hour of compelling conversation with Arizona newsmakers.

Since 1972, Pat has also managed to find the time to head his own creative company, The Idea Factory.

Pat’s professional and personal contributions have been richly rewarded with seven Emmys, major national and international radio awards along with numerous civic, educational, religious and humanitarian awards. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Ottawa University, the Arizona Broadcasters Lifetime Achievement Award, the only two-time Hall of Fame recipient of the Arizona Broadcasters Association, and his bronze likeness hangs alongside Hugh Downs and Leslie Nielsen in the rotunda of the Herberger Theater in recognition of his contributions to Communications and the Arts. The local theater community named the McMahons, “the First Family of Arizona Entertainment,” and Phoenix Theatre recently honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Even with all that, Pat, no doubt, feels most comfortable simply being thought of as someone you continue to trust in Arizona broadcasting.

Homer Lane

Homer was born in New York City in 1923. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1941, and served in the US Army during World War II. He joined the CBS radio station in New York in 1944. In 1946, he and his family moved to Marshall, Minnesota where he began working for KMHL as Program Director. In April 1951, Homer joined KOOL Radio in Phoenix, AZ as an Account Executive. He remained with the KOOL organization until 1986. During his more than 30 years with KOOL he served as Radio Program Director, Radio Station Manager, General Manager of both radio and television, Member of the Board of Directors, Treasurer of the Corporation, Executive Vice President, and was the station’s Chief Charter Pilot. For the last ten years of service he was one of the three stockholders of KOOL with Tom Chauncey and Gene Autry. Homer wrote and delivered the Station Editorials for 25 years. After leaving from management of KOOL-TV in 1982, he continued to manage KOOL radio stations until 1986. Following his services at KOOL, Homer helped in the restructuring of television stations in Tirana, Albania, and in Kiev and Kharkov, Ukraine until his retirement in 1994. Along with his military service, Homer served in the Broadcasting Industry for 50 years. Homer was an outstanding citizen as well as a pioneering influence in the Phoenix area. He was a charter member and president of the Board of Governors of the Arizona Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences where he served several terms. Homer was one of the first members to be inducted into the Silver Circle Society of the Academy in 1992 and later went on to become a Gold Circle Society Member in 2007. Homer also served as a member of the Inspection Team for Radio Free Europe Installations in West Germany in 1963, and was an Honorary Blue Angels Member. In 1970, with his late wife Doris, Homer served as a member of a five-person delegation in Paris to speak with the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) regarding the treatment of POW’s held by both sides during the Vietnam War. Homer was personally thanked by the late Senator John McCain for this work. Homer was an officer and/or member of over 65 community organizations including: Arizona Broadcasters Association, League of United Latin American Citizens, The Rolls Royce Club, and Sigma Delta Chi. He was also a member and past president of the Arizona 100 Rotary Club. In his lifetime Homer received approximately 125 different awards including Volunteer of the Year, Distinguished Citizen of the Year and the Abe Lincoln Award for exceptional Achievement as Broadcasters and Citizens. In addition to these awards, Homer was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1982. He also received special citations from the following: United States of America, State of Arizona, City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, US Navy, US Army and US Air Force. In recognition of his services in Washington D.C., the late Senator Barry Goldwater presented Homer with a US flag that was flown over the US Capital Building on our nation’s bicentennial. With a passion for life and love of community service, Homer left a real mark on society far beyond the Phoenix metropolitan area. During the 1970`s he was voted as “the most recognized person in the state of Arizona” in a survey conducted by one of KOOL TV station’s competitors. Homer passed away in 2008 at the age of 85.

Dick Knipfing

Dick Knipfing came to Albuquerque in the early 1960s as a University of New Mexico student. Since then he reported on hundreds of events which changed the direction of Albuquerque and state history. He has seen incredible changes in technology, the style of network news, and the methods by which news is collected.

His broadcasting career spanned 51 years, all in New Mexico. He retired as a senior anchor at KRQE News 13, in 2014. While there, Knipfing also served as a reporter and news director. He worked at all three major Albuquerque television stations during his career, including KOB-TV Channel 4, and KOAT-TV Channel 7. His return to KRQE brought him full circle. His TV news career began at the same station in 1963 when he was hired as a reporter-photographer (then called KGGM-TV).

Knipfing has received numerous awards for his writing and reporting abilities. In October 2013, he was inducted into the prestigious Gold Circle Society of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Rocky Mountain Southwest chapter.

Dick is married to Charlene Armijo of Albuquerque. They have two children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Jack Jacobson

Jack began his broadcasting career in 1929 on WHAM radio in Rochester, NY, at the tender age of eight on the Uncle Bob Pierce and Company Radio Show. For a while, he and his brother Jay, who went on to become a well-known writer as “Jay Williams”, had their own act together. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, which led to him and best friend, Murray Davison, forming the first Combat Special Services Entertainment Unit, the Famed Sky Blazers, who played with such notables as Jack Benny. He was awarded the Army’s Bronze Star Medal for his service, along with the Jubilee of Freedom Medal from the French Government. After the war, he returned to the U.S., married his sweetheart, Doris Erhard, and in 1945 formed The Ultra Tone Recording Company in Dallas, Texas. Four years later, he became executive producer and on-air talent at WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio, serving as producer of The Wendy Barrie Show, and also performing for pint-sized viewers as Nosey the Clown. In 1962, he was hired as program/promotion manager for Tucson’s KGUN-TV, and among his many duties was playing “kindly, lovable Dr. Scar” on the station’s Chiller Theater. He moved to Phoenix to manage KTVK-TV in 1979, and then returned to Tucson as general manager of KTTU-TV, a post he held until his retirement in 2002.

Jack was very active in the community. He served on the Executive Committee for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Additionally, he was appointed as a member of the Corporation (for MDA), and later served as a vice president of MDA’s National Association. He was a member of the advisory board of the Tucson Salvation Army, Casa de los Niños’ advisory board, KUAT-TV’s advisory board, and served as executive director for the performing group Kids Unlimited. He was elected to the ABC Television Network’s first Promotion Advisory Board and served as president of the Metropolitan Phoenix Broadcasters. Additionally, he was the recipient of the Tucson Ad Club’s Silver Medal; a member of the Arizona Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame, and in 2002, prestigious Gold Circle Society of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He was the published author of two young adult novels, “Miriam” and “No Ordinary Boy”, as well as a memoir about his World War II experiences, “Introducing The Sky Blazers.” He continued to record voiceovers for TV and radio commercials, handle public speaking engagements, and even acted as on-air spokesman for KUAT-TV’s pledge drives until a few months before his death from cancer. Jack passed away on March 23, 2009, at the age of 87.

Maurie Helle

Maurie is an Award-winning writer-producer-director. He has Co-produced and directed over 200 documentaries and specials, as well as more than 23,000 commercials. Helle also created two weekly children’s programs which aired for over 12 years. In 1990, he was selected by Food for The Hungry International, to go on location in Ethiopia and Kenya and document the organization’s efforts on the African Continent. This resulted in Helle, writing, producing and directing the acclaimed, “Seeds of Survival” documentary.

Maurie Graduated near the top of his class from Northwest Broadcasting School in 1959. He then worked as Chief Director at WHIZ-TV in Zanesville, Ohio until 1960. Upon moving to Arizona, he became the Chief Director and Production Manager at KOOL-TV, now KSAZ-TV. During his long tenure there, he directed all specials, including Sports for Arizona State University, the first televised College World Series from Omaha, Nebraska and the new National Basketball Association (NBA) team in town, the Phoenix Suns. In 1987 he retired from Channel 10 and became the president of Helle International Inc. Maurie is now fully retired.

He has won many awards and accolades over his life and career, including the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame, both the NATAS Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter’s Gold Circle and Silver Circle Society inductions, Lifetime Honorary Member Arizona Production Association, Lifetime Honorary Member of Phoenix Ad Club, International, “Best of Show” Redevelopment Award for Williams Gateway Airport Video, Arizona Chapter of AWRT: Producer/director of the Year, Emmy Award (regional) Coverage of Papal Visit to Arizona, National Iris Award for “Chapter Ten” weekly children’s program Subject: “Juvenile Justice”, Who’s Who In The West”, CBS-TV Children’s Workshop Panelist, Phoenix Advertising Man of The Year, and First Honorary Life Member Ad 2 Phoenix.

Helle International, Inc. Clients have included Chapman Auto Dealerships (7), Shasta Pools & Spas, Barclay Communications, HandsOn Marketing, Dr. Paul Dentistry, RacerWorld, Cricket Communications, Children’s Miracle Network, Bisbee Museum (Smithsonian Institute), Fahey/Black Communications, Xerox Corporation, Prudential Insurance, Mayo Clinic, House of Broadcasting Museum, Illinois Harwood Lumber Association, First National Bank of Arizona, and Citizens Communications Corp.

Maurie enjoys community service and has given back in many ways including as volunteer director for Central United Methodist Church videos, Arizona Heart Association, Lupus Foundation, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, House Of Broadcasting Museum (board member), Arizona Production Association (Past President, founding V.P.), Gompers Foundation (former board member), Arizona Education Association (public service producer), Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (public service producer), and Scottsdale Community College (film board member).

© Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences 2020

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