Today May 14, 1939 Bob Chase was born in Sheldon, Iowa to Aletha A. & Charles E. Bilsland. In 1957 Robert E. "Bob" Bilsland graduated from Sheldon High School and in the Fall began attending Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa, where he started his broadcasting career at KLEM. Bob moved to KSCJ as a newscaster, and staff announcer at TV sister station KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa. In 1966 Bob joined WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota as News Editor. In December 1968 WNAX was purchased by Roy H. Park Broadcasting of The Midwest, Inc.
On March 15, 1973 it was announced Robert Bilsland would join WNAX's newly acquired sister station in Portland, Oregon, KWJJ as News Director, changing his name to Bob Chase. He stayed with KWJJ until 1976. On January 2, 1978 Bob Chase joined KEX as a news reporter and anchor, also heard Sunday's on the public service program "Access" at 9:45am. On March 11, 1978 Bob was elected President of the "Oregon Associated Press Broadcasters Association." On June 12, 1978 Bob began a five part series "Political Salaries: Who Should Decide" heard at 9:30am and repeated 1:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm & 10:30pm, Monday thru Friday.
Bob covered news events ranging from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens to national political conventions. In July 1983 Bob was on Summer vacation, visiting old friends at WNAX. Bob Hill, the News Director mentioned that Chase's sweater was still hanging behind the door in the newsroom. Sure enough, there it was, right where Chase had left it back in 1973. Jim Howe, KEX News Director and veteran newscaster at 1190 quipped, "This story either says a great deal about the honesty of South Dakotans', or a great deal about Bob's taste in sweaters."
On February 25, 1985 Bob Chase, having covered the Rajneeshees for KEX News, several years, was part of the "Mount Hood Community College" media panel, sponsored by the "Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce", which included: Prem Isabel, Rajneeshee Press Bureau Director; Shanti Prahu, "The Rajneesh Times" reporter; Jon Tuttle, KGW-TV & Jeanie Senior, The Oregonian. The forum focused on the continuing conflicts and controversy concerning Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's commune, Rajneeshpuram.
In 1986, Bob was a member of the first group of U.S. broadcasters to visit Radio and TV stations in mainland China. As an enthusiastic student of Asian culture, Chase traveled throughout China. By 1987 Bob was anchoring KEX afternoons with Dana Jeffries. On April 3, 1996 the "Oregon Associated Press Broadcasters Association" announced KEX had won best feature story for Bob Chase's "Returning Veterans." Now for a Real Treat from 18 years ago. From October 1996 the 1190 KEX "Depend On Us" website. Bob Chase talks to us, about what he does:
Hi, and thanks for the "click" on the cool 1190 KEX page! It shows you are a sophisticated surfer... not one of those pinheads that will look at anything that comes along.
I'm one of those "drop everything...news is breaking out!" reporters. I risk my life doing on-the-scene reports from where it is happening...including interviews, news conferences and floods. Oh, those floods. I don't do windows, except for WINDOWS 95 (does that count?)
I could tell you about being a calf-roper in eastern Oregon or a ski instructor in Vail...but it wouldn't be true. I got into this "news thing" years ago and enjoy the challenge of keeping up with something new and different every day. You don't return my phone call, boom! I've done reports from as far away as Atlanta, New York and Beijing. In truth, however, most are not much further than Salem, Scappoose or Sisters.
Favorite Participation Sport: Tennis
Favorite Political Quote: "There comes a time to put principle aside and do what's right."
Favorite Get-a-way: Tie: Neskowin, Oregon; Phuket, Thailand
Favorite Radio Station: 1190 KEX (extra points, please)
Favorite TV Show: David Letterman (I'll write a top ten list to explain)
Favorite Ska Rock Band: MU330
Happily you'll find something on the Internet about all of the above if you ever wander away from the 1190 KEX page. Thanks for being here!
Starting in August 1997 Bob was heard as well on KEWS, KEX's new sister station "K-News."
On December 22, 1998, after 21 years at KEX, Bob Chase's contract was not renewed. The move came as a shock not only to KEX staffers but also to the Portland radio community, which knew Chase's sterling reputation as a hard-working newsman, whose pleasant demeanor was practically legendary. "Twenty-One years at one radio station is a long time, and it's a business that you have to prove yourself every day, and I've tried to do that," said Chase, who was given no reason for his dismissal.
"Managers have to make value judgments, and in these 21 years value judgments have changed -- in radio and lots of other businesses. I've never had a run-in with anybody," Chase said when asked if he and management had past problems. "People would ask me if I was ever going to leave KEX, and I'd tell them, not until the airport was finished,'' For Chase, the schedule was knocked off course. While Jacor wouldn't comment, it was obvious Bob's higher salary led to his undoing.
In 1999 Bob Chase joined the KXL news staff as a reporter and news anchor for two years. April 19, 2000 it was announced Bob Chase was among the roster of broadcast vets launching KPAM's News/Talk format May 1, 2000. At KPAM Bob was a news anchor and also did reporting duties. By 2001 Bob was anchoring KPAM afternoons with Heidi Tauber.
On September 26, 2003 Bob Chase died at age 64 in Portland, following a short battle with prostate cancer. Bob had been home, complaining of fatigue and lost consciousness while trying to get upstairs to his bedroom, paramedics were unable to revive him.
Jim Howe, said Bob was at his best in interviews. "If we had a story and we thought the person to be interviewed was going to be kind of difficult to handle, or there might be some kind of problem, we'd always leave that story to Bob." Known for his empathetic interviewing style, Chase developed strong connections among Oregon political figures over the years. Mayor Vera Katz called his death "a true loss" for the city.
References: Broadcasting Yearbook, The Columbian, Mitchell Daily Republic, Le Mars Daily Sentinel, The Oregonian, web.archive.