PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — KOIN 6 is celebrating 70 years on air by looking back at the pivotal moments, places and faces that have contributed to the station’s legacy of “Watching out for you.”
The outlet got its start as a radio station in 1925. But it wasn’t until Oct. 15, 1953, that KOIN Radio became KOIN TV.
Art Kirkham was the first anchor to be seen on the station’s airwaves, but according to the KOIN archives, the broadcast was never recorded.
“I can’t remember the words exactly,” Kirkham said in an old video. “It was something about coming into a new era of broadcasting for us because we’d not only be sound, we’d be sight as well to the audience — and that called for a little different approach and a little different presentation, but it was something that wasn’t insurmountable.”
The transition to sight and sound was one of many firsts for the channel. In the beginning years, KOIN 6 also made the switch from black-and-white programming to color telecasts.
Additionally, the station was among the firsts to have a woman — Betty Foster — behind the camera.
Other changes included a switch from brief news bursts to half-hour telecasts and KOIN’s relocation from Skyline Boulevard to its current home on Southwest Columbia Street in the ‘80s.
Also in the ‘80s, long-time anchor Ken Boddie joined the team as a producer on the weekends and a reporter during the week.
“I came in with a broken arm my very first day from playing basketball the weekend before,” Boddie recalled. “I started off my career here back in 1985, with my arm in a cast and a sling, trying to go out in the field and be a reporter, so I do remember that very well. It didn’t hold me back, though.”
With almost 40 years of KOIN shows behind him, he shared that his favorite show he’s worked on is the one that he hosts now, Eye on Northwest Politics. He said the show allows him to converse directly with politicians, business leaders and activists about the issues affecting the community.
Boddie’s favorite story he’s covered, however, is one that he did toward the beginning of his career. The story centered on the Rajneesh, a religious commune in Central Oregon that was believed to have poisoned Wasco County residents so Rajneesh leaders could win an election in 1984.
Boddie did extensive reporting on the commune, some of which was featured in Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country” documentary from 2018.
The Netflix documentary speaks to technology’s impact on the TV news industry, an impact that Boddie noted as one of the biggest changes he’s seen in his time at KOIN 6.
Jenny Hansson, who anchors the 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. shows, also cited technology as the biggest change she’s seen since starting at KOIN in 2006.
“We’re doing more shows than when I first started here, a lot more hours of news,” Hansson said. “The website has just exploded in the time that I’ve been here and that’s become just as important, if not more, as what we’re putting on TV because a lot of people get their news on their phone now.”
She added that she didn’t plan on staying in Portland long-term, but her love of her family and her job kept her in the Rose City.
During her time on air, Hansson has run six Hood to Coast relay races, rappelled down Big Pink twice and rode with the Air Force Thunderbirds.
“I’ve definitely done stuff out of my comfort zone on television here, I’m not sure why I did it, but I have the memories,” she joked.
Hansson and Boddie are just two of the KOIN journalists who have helped the station watch out for Portland for the past 70 years.
Other longtime notable figures still gracing Channel 6 include current anchor Jeff Gianola, and reporter Lisa Balick.