The Broadcasting Bullens: One Family’s Contribution to Cache Valley Newspaper, Radio, and Television: KVNU
Herschel Bullen’s interest in media did not stop with the sale of his newspaper, the Republican, but simply took on a new form. On November 20, 1938, the Cache Valley Broadcasting Company inaugurated KVNU, Logan’s oldest continuously operating radio station and the first to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission. Prior to the initial broadcast, the company was directed by a group of Salt Lake City businessmen headed by S. L. Billings, which had tried to interest the Bullens in purchasing the company early on.
Herschel and his son, Reed Bullen, began this process within days of the inauguration when they signed on as stockholders of the company. Reed soon became general manager of the station, and within seven years of the starting date, the Bullen family gained majority ownership of the Cache Valley Broadcasting Company. For several years, Herschel served as president of the company, with Reed acting as the general manager and later director. Reed’s voice was often heard on the radio interviewing local residents during his program, Man on the Street, or voicing local business advertisements and announcements.[i]
In 1985 Reed Bullen was inducted into the Utah Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. He directed KVNU until he retired and sold the company to his son, Jonathan, in 1986. The Bullen family maintained control over KVNU until 1996, when they sold it to the Cache Valley Media Group, who owns it today. Reed continued to participate in radio broadcasting for several years prior to his death in Logan on October 9, 2005, at age ninety-nine.
Salt Lake City’s first “regularly scheduled television program,” W6XIS, was inaugurated in April. This program, managed by KDYL radio, was broadcast every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:00 p.m.[ii]
Ed Parsons set up the first Community Antenna Television system (a precursor to modern cable television) in Astoria, Oregon. While television had been around for several years, it was often inaccessible to those living in small towns too distant from cities that hosted TV stations. When a new station was started in Seattle, Parsons found that he could receive television by placing an antenna at the top of a hotel near his home. He then discovered that he could connect the antenna to other homes using a coaxial cable, which consists of a copper-encased aluminum wire enclosed in a solid aluminum tube.[iii]
Television first came to Cache Valley in 1952. According to Ellis Hancey of Intermountain TV Repair, he and others traveled to a mountain peak southwest of Clarkston and set up an “AC generator, an old Magnavox console and an antenna.” After turning the system on, they received a fairly clear picture of a cooking program from the Salt Lake City station, KSL.[iv]
Cache Valley’s first cable television system began operating in Wellsville. The community was located too close to the mountains to receive any picture, so residents placed antennas on the top of a nearby hill and used cable to channel the frequencies to their homes.[v]