ANNIVERSARY DAY 2-27-04 LMS
February 27 marks the 45th anniversary of KSRA Radio in Salmon and the 54th anniversary of Steel Memorial Hospital.
KSRA went on the air at noon February 27, 1959 with great fan fare, a special recorded greeting from Tennessee Ernie Ford followed by his rendition of \"The River of No Return\" and much local anticipation. Sound trucks with loud speakers traveled the town alerting residents of the grand event and everyone was tuned in at the appointed time. Prior to that day there was no radio reception in Salmon and as a result many residents were blasted out of their homes by volumes set for hearing far distant signals.
Gene Shumate was the man behind the establishment of KSRA. He had owned KRXK in Rexburg, Idaho since 1955 and took on the challenge of bringing radio to one of the few remaining towns in the country that had no radio service. Gene and May-Floyd Shumate migrated to Idaho from Des Moines, Iowa where he was known as \"the Dean of Iowa Sports Announcers\" and she, in Chicago earlier years, had been a soap opera and stage actress. The Shumates had known Dave and Elizabeth Ainsworth since before World War II and their relocation to Idaho gave the Ainsworths a good excuse for a northwestern vacation. During that visit the Ainsworths learned of the new radio station project Shumate had undertaken and drove to Salmon to see the area. It was love at first sight and prompted their life-changing move from Spirit Lake, Iowa to Salmon, Idaho where Dave became the first manager of KSRA in partnership with Gene. Later Ainsworths purchased the station and in the years of ownership Dave became a prominent leader and valuable asset to the community.
Steele Memorial Hospital was still a fairly new kid on the block when KSRA went on the air. The hospital was dedicated in 1950 after much local fund raising and a $75,000 grant from Eleanor Steel Reese. The Main Street hospital has served the community for the past 54 years and is soon to be replaced by a grand new facility located a block behind the present building. The same spirit of resident determination is going into the new building as went into the first one however the price tag is a lot higher. Ground was officially broken May 5, 2003 for the new hospital that was made possible by voter approval of an $11 million bond in the November 2002 election. Completion date for the new facility is this August.
It is ironic that the original locations of the two establishments that share the same anniversary day are meeting the same fate this year. The old hospital building will be torn down upon completion of the new one and KSRA\'s first home, the old roller rink building, was recently removed to make room for the new Town Square.
Time marches on, as does the spirit of those who made such great contributions to the community of Salmon.
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