Scott Campbell: A Pioneer In Contemporary Christian Radio

In an earlier post I mentioned an old and dear friend, Scott Campbell. He was one of three people (the others being Don Crawley at KECK and Chris Abercrombie at KLMS) who got me started in radio. Scott was a devout evangelical Christian who was educated at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, a Sunday School teacher, and successful top-40 air personality in the 1960s. In the late 60s he pioneered the contemporary Christian radio format at KARI, Blaine, WA. He took that format to KSON San Diego, KFMK-FM, Houston and finally, in 1977, to KBHL-FM, Lincoln, Neb. Here is an aircheck, an edited recording from a particular show, from the mid-60s as Scott signs on as Bob Campbell at KLOG, Kelso, WA:

Here’s Scott having fun on the air at KPUG, Bellingham circa 1967:

And a brief clip of him on the air at Color Radio Channel 95, KJR Seattle in 1968 where Pat O’Day gave him the air name “Scott Campbell”:

Larry King, a lical Christian  a local businessman founded KBHL in 1973 airing a “contemporary Christian” format. In 1977 he brought in Scott from KFMK FM in Houston to program it. Scott turned the station into a Christian Top-40 station complete with contests and (the WLS jingle package). He introduced strict format controls and play charts. He hired in some of the best voices heard in Lincoln. Dewey Boynton did morning drive (6AM-10AM). Bob Kellogg did drive time news. Jim Hanemaayer did mid-days. Scott did afternoon drive (2PM–6PM). For a while they had Gerry Logan, a genus in the production studio. “New Life 95” bumper stickers were frequently seen in Lincoln in the mid to late 1970s. Broadcasting Kansas City Royals baseball helped the ratings. The music was often technically mediocre but the on-air staff, production values, and professionalism made KBHL one of the best sounding stations in town for a few years.

When a new owner changed the format to Christian MOR (middle of the road) in 1979, Scott left and went to work for another station (KFOR, Lincoln) and finished his career Bend, Oregon where he died in 1989.

He ought to be remembered. He was a terrific radio talent and pioneered a format which has become a staple in many major markets. He had a great voice and on-air presence. He brought a serious major market sound to a sleepy middle market town. Scott’s contributions to Christian radio have been recognized with the Scott Campbell Industry Achievement Award, which has been given since 1998.

Here are a couple of brief air checks. The first is from sometime during 1978–79 and the second is from his last shift in 1980, on a Saturday night, when the station was allowed to play rock and roll.

Scott Campbell (KBHL) 1978–79:

Scott Campell (KBHL) 1980: The Last Shift:

Scott & Elise on KLRR FM Bend, in November, 1988.

Here’s Scott & Elise on KLRR FM in Bend shortly before his death.

Thanks for listening.

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