Copyright © 2008 Henrietta W. Hay
Henrietta, the Radio Personality
February 8, 2008
On a sunny day in June, 1945, my husband Chuck, five year old son John and I arrived in our new home. I had scarcely heard of Grand Junction, but Chuck had become chief engineer of the radio station, KFXJ.
My first view of the station building at the end of Hillcrest Manor was very nearly identical to the view I would have had three weeks ago.
The fire that destroyed it was tragic for the station and staff, and a loss to our city. It had a long, exciting history. And I felt a personal loss. I spent many hours in that building.
Dick Maynard and Jim Spehar have written very interesting columns about their experiences with the station. Mine are less technical, but they took place quite a bit earlier.
I can't be quite sure of the dates, between 1947 and 1950 I had a two hour daily morning program on KFXJ.
Dick Maynard remembers the radio studio as "gigantic." It certainly seemed big to me 21 years earlier.
I sat at a big, long table with the end pushed against a big glass panel. Behind the panel sat Bill Warner at the control board. I looked to my left and he signaled to me when to talk and when to shut up. His technical panel would probably make today's radio engineer shudder. It was not very big, but obviously big enough.
Across the table sat Ed Lewis, the announcer. Actually he came and went, depending on what was going on.
Oh yes, all the news and various kinds of information came not through the air or on special, private telephone lines, but on a plain, ordinary phone to a noisy teletype machine which ground out words day and night on yellow paper.
I saved some of those yellow sheets.
"Good Morning. This is Domestic Diary With Henrietta Hay."
People who know me today tend to get hysterical when they hear the title. I am not known for my domesticity today, and even then I was no Martha Stewart. (Note: I've never been in the pokey either.)
Going through the yellow sheets, I find that we did a lot of different things on Domestic Diary, just about anything a young housewife-mother might be interested in. They included housekeeping, cooking, child care, gardening, the weather, sewing. (Hard to imagine isn't it?)
I remember answering listeners' questions on how to cook this and that. I even found a note reporting that my seven year old son had learned how to poach eggs. That is something I have long forgotten and so, I expect, has John.
We used a lot of music, and that mentioned in my yellow papers was all classical. No Punk Rock for me!
Also in 1947 another son, David, arrived, and I am sure that that made me a good bit more domestic.
My interviews were usually far from domestic. I remember one that included a group of intellectuals, including Josephine Biggs and Mildred Shaw. We had all attended the Goethe Summer Festival in Aspen and we had heard Albert Schweitzer speak. We discussed such questions as, "What is the position of the individual in society?"
Probably the most important interview was the one with Dr. Florence Sabin of Denver. She was a nationally known leader in the Public Health field. Mesa County had no Health Department at that time, and our interview was a lightning rod here. Several local groups got busy and a Public Health Department was established, with its first office on 5th between Rood and White.
In 1947 KFXJ was a small radio station founded by Rex Howell. That's the one I knew and we had fun in it. He went on to establish a media empire that was known as KREX. I wish the owners and staff quick success in their re-building.
(To see another picture of Henrietta at KFXJ (with husband Chuck, press here.)