This Month In The History of Rocky Mountain PBS --- FEBRUARY
by Laura Sampson, Founder of Station's Archived Memories (SAM)
Do you know which bite is more dangerous . . . that of an animal or human? Where were the best camping sites in Colorado in the 1960s? What should you do when bitten by a tick? Answers to these and many more questions were presented on one of the longest local productions on KRMA, Colorado Wildlife.
The wildly popular local production, Colorado Wildlife was launched on February 11, 1960. The program was sponsored by the Colorado Game and Fish Department and hosted from 1960-1964 by Keith Hay, senior game biologist. The initial show provided information for hunters and fishermen and used live animals, film clips and guest speakers to depict the habitats and characteristics of Colorado’s wildlife. During the final minutes of the program, viewers were invited to call with questions that would be answered over the air.
As the production evolved, the program expanded to include information on camping, hiking, boating, wildlife and wildlife conservation in Colorado. Live animals were frequently used as “guests” on the program. Host, Keith Hay, recalled in a 1961 newspaper article the time that he had a bobcat as a guest on his show. “The cat was very nervous before show time, so we gave it a couple of tranquilizers. During the course of the program, the cat went to sleep and we couldn’t awaken him . . . we shoved, kicked and pulled, all the time trying to look nonchalant about the whole thing. Finally we gave up and went on to the next subject.”
In 1962, then Governor-elect John Love was a guest on Colorado Wildlife to discuss the future of hunting and fishing in Colorado, the importance of wildlife resource to the state’s economy, water development programs and hunter safety. Governor Love was interviewed on the program a second time in 1964 as “Colorado’s Sportsman Governor.”
Some of the more unique topics covered on Colorado Wildlife included “Scuba Diving in Colorado,” “Pesticides and Wildlife,” “Elk and Helicopters,” “Turkeys and Telemetry,” and “Antique Fishing Tackle.”
Several qualified staff members of Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Department hosted Colorado Wildlife. In 1964, Colorado Wildlife introduced new program hosts for its 5th season, Gail Boyd and Brownlee Guyer. Bernie Reed became the 4th host of the program as it started its sixth consecutive season in 1965. In 1966, Dick Hess was introduced as the 7th season host.
On July 21, 1966, Colorado Wildlife returned for its 9th consecutive season under a new name, Colorado Outdoors. Dick Hess continued as its host. The title of the series was changed because for the previous eight seasons, Colorado Wildlife was produced in cooperation with the Colorado Game and Fish Department. The Game and Fish Department merged with the Department of Parks and Recreation and its function was broadened to cover not just wildlife, but the entire outdoors of Colorado – The Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Department. Hence, the new title Colorado Outdoors. By 1968, the program was televised in “full-color” which delighted its Colorado audience!
Another unique fact related to Colorado Outdoors: Hosted by Arch Andrews of Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Division, Colorado Outdoors televised a complete 10-week course of hunter safety instruction in 1969 and 1970. According to Colorado’s State Hunter Safety Coordinator, Gail Boyd, successful completion of the televised course of hunter safety instruction satisfied Colorado’s 1970 hunter safety requirements. Under the new law, all persons born after January 1, 1949 had to successfully complete a course in hunter safety instruction before they were allowed to hunt in Colorado. The law became effective January 1, 1970.
Starting in 1970, Colorado Outdoors introduced host, Arch Andrews who was the Public Affairs Manager for Colorado Division of Wildlife. Dick Hess later returned to host the program as it continued to delight viewers with guest sportsmen, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts every week. Research indicates that the final broadcast of Colorado Outdoors was hosted by Dick Hess on December 16, 1976. This sixteen-year local production definitely played an important role in the history of Rocky Mountain PBS.