Veteran Twin Falls Broadcaster Kelly Klaas Announces Retirement
After more than 45 years of broadcasting in the Magic Valley, radio legend Kelly Klaas has announced his retirement.
Kelly Klaas started his radio career as a Top 40 radio DJ in 1969 with KEEP radio in Twin Falls.
Located on Blue Lakes Blvd. North, to the south of what is now the KMVT building, KEEP was practically in the country in 1969--a far cry from the hustle and bustle that area is today. The road was fairly dark and street lights were few and far between. The intersection of Blue Lakes and Pole Line was merely a single stop sign on a dark corner.
That's how much the Twin Falls has changed since Kelly first turned on the microphone.
Kelly moved up through the ranks of News Director and Program Director but settled on hosting a shift and reading the news. The Magic Valley native knew he wanted to be a newscaster from an early age. “Walter Cronkite was my idol when I was like 12 years old.”
During his amazing career, Kelly has won awards from the Idaho State Broadcasters Association including “Newscaster of the Year”, “Best Farm Broadcast of the year”, and was awarded “Best Commercial Production of the Year" several times. Besides his on air work he was also Chief Engineer.
In 1974, KEEP moved from the Blue Lakes North location to its present address, 415 Park Avenue in Twin Falls. Kelly maintained his position in on-air work, news-casting and engineering.
As the Chief Engineer, Kelly's duties expanded in 1993 when KEEP / KEZJ purchased KLIX AM & FM. Over the next few months Kelly spent his time moving the equipment from the original KLIX location, north of Kimberly, and integrating it into the operation at the Park Ave. facility. He also supervised the upgrading of the tower sites with new transmitters, antenna systems and automation systems.
In 2004 another station was added: KSNQ-FM, 98.3 The Snake. Kelly supervised and was very hands-on during KSNQ's construction and launch.
But most of Kelly’s time on the air since 1993 has been spent on News Radio 1310 KLIX.
When asked about highlights of his career, Kelly will mention the time radio legend Wolf Man Jack joined him on his show, turning the radio station parking lot into a full-blown traffic jam, meeting Ronald Reagan as the then-actor attempted his first unsuccessful run at the Presidency, and reporting from Evel Knievel's failed attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1974.
In 2007, KLIX launched a new talk show called “Top Story” with Kelly Klaas. It began as a 45 minute program and has since expanded to two hours and is still going strong today. The popular talk show deals with local and national politics, human interest and anything Twin Falls and Magic Valley residents care about.
“One thing that is very special about Kelly is his delivery – he’s so reassuring in a crisis situation," admitted Twin Falls Market Manager Janice Degner. "Kelly broadcast the tragic news that our country was under attack on 9/11. If people in the Magic Valley wanted to know what was happening, they listened to Kelly Klaas. I wish him the very best in his retirement. He will be missed.”
A nationwide search is currently underway to find a successor to carry the talk show mantle at News Radio 1310 KLIX. Kelly Klaas will be succeeded, not replaced.
Kelly Klaas' final day on air is December 31st, 2014. Upon retiring, Kelly plans to pursue a voice-over business, spend more time with his grandchildren and in his woodworking shop, talk on his ham radio and take a lot of digital pictures. “I’ve got enough hobbies to keep me busy.”
Whether he's shouting and pounding his fists on the console during "Top Story", working in the Engineering Room, or just walking through the hallways whistling and singing, everyone at Townsquare Media Twin Falls understands that they've had the privilege of working with a Twin Falls icon and his presence will be sincerely missed.