ABA Hall of Fame inductee reflects on long career in radio

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010

Bill Legere, general manager for Capital Community Broadcasting, has become the 53rd inductee into the Alaska Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

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These awards are reserved for those who have dedicated their professional lives to advancing broadcasting in Alaska and have made significant contributions to that effect.

With around 30 years in the business, Legere has done just that. He's spent the last 25 of those years at KTOO in Juneau as well as serving on the ABA board and boards for the Alaska Public Radio Network and Alaska Public Television Network.

Legere came to Alaska in 1980 and moved to Juneau to begin work as the KTOO radio manager in 1985, becoming general manager in 1991.

"I'm involved one way or another in everything KTOO does in radio and TV," Legere said. "My job is to make sure the radio stations are well-run and financially secure and meeting the board's policies and objectives and meeting community needs."

This is a staple of Legere philosophy on broadcasting for Juneau and Alaska.

"We take that very seriously to respond to what the community wants," he said.

ABA Hall of Fame requirements include advancing broadcasting, and Legere reflected on the progress that happened under his watch.

One main project has been "Gavel to Gavel Alaska," a format for live coverage of legislative and other governmental proceedings. Developed in 1995, it involves unedited and unfiltered coverage of state government. "Gavel to Gavel Alaska" is broadcast on satellite and is viewed across the state.

He said the importance of that is that is it makes the capital accessible to the whole state while serving as an outreach to Juneau.

"We see ourselves as a proxy for the public, not to interpret what they're doing just show what they're doing," he said, adding, "It's meant that Alaskans everywhere can see what's going on."

Gavel to Gavel Alaska expended into the statewide channel 360 North in 2007. Legere describes it as a 24-hour public affairs channel with full-time Alaska coverage. Besides the live legislative coverage, it features documentaries, science and history programs relating to the state. It broadcasts both local and Public Broadcasting Service programs and is available on other stations and cable systems in the state.

Another piece of Legere's handiwork at KTOO has been expanding its public radio into three stations, also in 2007.

He said that all programming used to be on one station and now KTOO is all news, KXLL plays music aimed at the 18-34 age demographic, and KRNN involves a wider range of arts and music.

He has also helped the website to stream TV service and provide audio on demand for legislative meetings. He said a video on demand tool will go online in January.

"The most important thing we do is employ talented people to report news and create programs," he said.

Legere's start in broadcasting actually came way before his Alaska days. At 15 years old, he started as a disc jockey at a radio station in his hometown of Rumford, Maine.

He went on to work at a college radio station at the University of Maine. That progressed into his first job in public broadcasting as a news reporter and producer in 1970, also at the University of Maine.

He started in public broadcasting around the same time NPR was formed, he said.

He said his ascent into professional broadcasting was a natural fit, as he started as a 15-year-old kid interested in electronics and home movies, and that just evolved.

"I consider myself, first and foremost, a broadcaster. In Juneau, Dennis Egan is an old school broadcaster who upholds broadcasting, and that's what I try to do," he said. "Still, I often say that I'm lucky because even though I don't produce anymore, I can walk down the hall and see the people who put the content on."

Legere said the secret of his nomination was a well-kept one. He didn't have a clue he would be awarded when he arrived in Anchorage for the ABA awards banquet in Anchorage on Nov. 5.

"I didn't figure it out until halfway through the remarks, so they did a good job at keeping this secret," he said.

ABA is a trade association for commercial and non-commercial radio and television stations in Alaska. Only three others from Juneau have made it into the Hall of Fame: Charlie Gray, Charlie Northrip and Dennis Egan.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.



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