Broadcasting pioneer Georgia Davidson, a founder of Idaho’s first commercial radio and television stations, is dead at 89.
Davidson died of natural causes at her Boise home on Sunday. Graveside services were scheduled for Wednesday at Morris Hill Cemetery.
An Idaho native, Davidson and her husband, C.J. Phillips, returned from the University of Oregon in 1928 and transformed a student radio station at Boise High School into KIDO, Idaho’s first commercial station.
She took over sole operation of KIDO in 1942 when her husband died unexpectedly, becoming one of the few women in radio management nationally at the time.
Four years later, she married Boise businessman R. Mowbray Davidson, who died in 1985. In 1953, she obtained Idaho’s first Federal Communications Commission television license. She put the station on the air as KIDO-TV, an NBC affiliate that eventually received the new call letters of KTVB-TV after KIDO radio was sold in 1959.
Davidson served as president of KTVB-TV until 1972 when she become chairman of the board and chief executive officer until the station was sold in 1980 to King Broadcasting in Seattle.
For many years she was the only woman running one of the network’s 120 affiliates and is credited with blazing a trail that made it easier for other women to enter the higher echelons of the male-dominated broadcasting industry.
“Georgia’s top priority was always the viewers she served,” said Robert Krueger, who joined KTVB-TV in 1956 and replaced Davidson as president in 1972.
In recalling his association with Davidson during recent ceremonies honoring her as the Girl Scouts’ “Woman of Today and Tomorrow,” Krueger recounted the early days of the Public Broadcasting System when the “Sesame Street” children’s educational program was first created. KTVB-TV carried it without commercials at Davidson’s direction because Idaho still had no public television station.
“It was no small task,” Krueger said. “PBS wasn’t crazy about the idea, and NBC certainly wasn’t thrilled. Despite all that, George made it happen. Then she played a lead role in making public television a reality in Idaho.”
She is survived by daughters Sherli Ellingson and Bette Rasmussen.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.