» Portland Radio

Widely Known As: Kay West, Betty Buyer & Vere Kneeland

(5 posts)

  1. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    Today April 15, 1908 Glenna Vere Heacock was born in Newberg. She would later be one of Portland's most well known Radio & TV Personalities in the 1930's 40's & 50's under the names: Kay West, Betty Buyer & Vere Kneeland. Vere moved to Portland by 1921 and was a member of the Franklin High School debate team, winning against Silverton on January 24, 1925. Vere graduated from Franklin in June 1927 and began at the University of Oregon that September, majoring in Journalism. In 1929 Glenna Vere Heacock married Richard C. Kneeland, a certified public accountant.

    She began in radio broadcasting at KXL in the summer of 1929. Graduated from the U. of O. in 1930. Moved to KTBR (later known as KPOJ) in 1931 and began "The Bib & Crib Hour" for 30 minutes. By January 1932 "The Heacock Sisters" were heard Tuesdays 7 to 7:30pm on KFJR (later known as KPOJ). This was Vere and sister Dorene, as singers.

    On January 30, 1932 the "Vere Kneeland" program debuted on KWJJ Saturday nights from 9 to 9:15pm. On October 5, 1932 "Bib & Crib" showed up on the KALE (later known as KPOJ) schedule from 2:30 to 2:45pm weekdays. All these programs were short lived. On November 11, 1932 Vere had twin sons Richard L. Kneeland & Robert M. Kneeland. The family was living at 574 East Taylor St. In Fall 1933 Vere continued with more education at the University of Oregon.

    On January 4, 1937 Vere returned to radio, becoming known on KOIN as "Betty Buyer" from 5 to 5:15pm weekdays, where listeners found out where the smart buys were. The name Betty Buyer was adapted from "Charles F. Berg" ads of their personal shopping bureau, that dated back to 1931. On January 8, 1938 the "Betty Buyer" program moved to mornings at 10am for 15 minutes weekdays. On February 18, 1938 the Women's Advertising Club luncheon at the Benson Hotel had guest speaker Mrs. Kneeland speaking on advertising and its relation to selling and showing how radio, newspaper advertising and sales promotions are related. Last "Betty Buyer" program aired on KOIN May 28, 1938.

    On April 22, 1940 KEX debuted Kneeland's "It's A Woman's World" from 11:15 to 11:30am weekdays, sponsored by Olds, Wortman & King. On November 14, 1940 Vere added another KEX program "The Green Stamp Review with Vere Kneeland" Mondays & Wednesdays from 11:45 to 12pm & Saturdays from 11 to 11:15am. The show had Music, Shopping News & Features. On February 17, 1941 "Listen Ladies" debuted on KEX's sister station KGW at 9:15am for 15 minutes, Monday thru Saturdays with Vere as host, featuring Women's News, Fashions, Interviews, etc.

    On May 9, 1941 the last "Green Stamp Review" aired on KEX. On July 2, 1941 the last "Listen Ladies" aired on KGW. On September 29, 1941 "Woman's World" moved from KEX to sister station KGW weekday mornings from 9 to 9:15am. On June 3, 1942 "Woman's World" moved back to KEX at 9:15am. Ad: "It is getting to be a "Woman's World" and Vere Kneeland is helping the ladies do it. You'll enjoy he recipes and interviews. Tune in her program each morning now on KEX 9:15." On September 10, 1943 "Woman's World" aired for the last time.

    On August 1, 1944 Vere Kneeland became an announcer for the KWJJ program "The Alicia McElroy Ensemble" heard weekdays 11:30 to Noon. On March 12, 1945 KWJJ began the public service program "For Home & School" under the direction of Vere Kneeland. It was heard weekdays at 3pm with co-operation from the Portland Public Library, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society & The Parent-Teacher Association.

    On April 18, 1945 Vere Kneeland returned to KEX now owned by Westinghouse and was named KEX Woman's Program Director. On May 7, 1945 KEX debuted "At Home with Kay West" Food Tips, Recipes, Fashion, Interviews & Fun, weekdays from 2:30 to 3pm. Vere's on air name was Kay West. She was named from the Kay in K-E-X and West, from Westinghouse.

    May 29, 1946 ad: "For a home beautiful listen to Kay West. She's an authority on color schemes, decorations, helpful home suggestions, interviews with women in the news and gay chit-chat about the "this and that" of feminine fancy. At Home with Kay West, Monday thru Friday---2:30 P.M. KEX 1190." On October 28, 1946 "At Home with Kay West" moved to 1:30pm. On April 15, 1947 the program would start to be known occasionally as "The Kay West Show."

    On May 24, 1947 "Billboard" magazine did a short write up about the show: "At Home with Kay West, 1:30-2pm Monday thru Friday. Half hour offering one participations. Non-competitive products used in the home. Almost since its inception two years ago this program has been the undisputed champion of all KEX programs at mail call. Recently two announcements pulled twelve hundred requests for home planning books and calendars. The program achieves a wide variety of home suggestions. Interviews with women in the news, gay and harmonious chit-chat of interest to homemakers provide a near perfect tie-in for any products bought by women or used in the house. Kay West has been a radio favorite in Portland for 15 years."

    November 17, 1947 ad: "Kay West now presents---as an added feature---Ray Mills, romantic tenor, every day except Wednesday. Always dial 1190 KEX."

    Sept 4, 1948 "Billboard" magazine: "Kay West Day Big Draw At Multnomah Annual. Portland, Ore.; Aug 28. -- Station KEX's "Kay West Day At Multnomah County Fair", Gresham, Ore. Wednesday the 25th attracted an estimated 20,000 giving the event its best single day's attendance mark in its history." On November 15, 1949 it was announced that the Grocery Manufacturers Assoc. of America had awarded "At Home with Kay West" First Prize in National competition for outstanding interpretation of the food "Lifeline of America."

    By March 31, 1949 the program occasionally was referred to as "The Kay West Program." On February 27, 1950 "At Home with Kay West" began "FESTIVE FRIDAY", the last Friday of every month KEX would open studios to "see the Kay West broadcast and stay all afternoon if you like. FAVORS for ALL. FUN and a BIG DISPLAY of Table Settings. KEX STUDIOS, 1230 S.W. Main." On November 20, 1950 "At Home with Kay West" expanded to 45 minutes at 1:15pm.

    On April 13, 1951 ad: SAFEWAY'S FOOD FAIR, 52nd & Woodstock. Be Our Guests For THE KAY WEST SHOW Friday Afternoon. It's Portland's own Kay West, Sparkling KEX Star. She will broadcast direct from our Food Fair and YOU are invited. Broadcast Time, 1:15 P.M. The Kay West Show has been named Best Women's Program In The Nation by the Grocery Manufacturers's Association." On September 3, 1951 ad: "The Kay West Program now a full hour 1 to 2 P.M. Listen for Kay West & Jesse Leonard every day at 1." Kay might have needed help filling a full hour.

    On November 13, 1951 it was announced for the 2nd time the Grocery Manufacturers again named Kay West National Winner. "Lifeline of America" award won for "At Home with Kay West." While in New York to receive the award Kay was a guest on ABC Radio's "Don McNeill's Breakfast Club", November 16, 1951. On September 4, 1952 "The Kay West Program" broadcast a full hour live from the Oregon State Fair.

    On May 8, 1953 Kay West interviewed Mary Pickford. On November 2, 1953 Kay West interviewed Patti Throop, Miss Oregon 1953. On January 5, 1954 Kay West interviewed Burl Ives. December 3, 1954 ad: Friday is "KAY WEST Day!" "We're honoring this famous radio personality from KEX! Come in...see Kay West broadcast from Nudelman Bros. at 1 p.m. on Friday...and stay for the Cake 'n' Coffee party during the afternoon. It's especially for the ladies! Portland's favorite radio personality chooses fine gifts from Portland's favorite men's store...Nudelman Bros.

    On February 11, 1955 it was announced KEX would not renew Vere Kneeland's contract next month. On March 9, 1955 noted food and fashion authority, Vere Kneeland would help the new KLOR (TV) channel 12 sign on the air with her new 30 minute program "Lady of The House" at 4:30pm. On March 26, 1955 the last Kay West program with Vere Kneeland aired on KEX. Kay West would continue to be heard on KEX from the voice of Elizabeth "Sherry" Vaughan and later by Rita Woodbury aka Rita Dewart.

    On April 25, 1955 "Lady of The House" moved to 3:30pm. By May 1955 the Kneeland's were living at 6187 S.E. Taylor Court. On January 23, 1956 "Lady of The House" moved to 2pm. On March 12, 1956 "Lady of The House" expanded to 60 minutes weekdays at 2pm. The show included 20 minutes in the kitchen, 20 minutes in the keeping room and 20 minutes in the music room. On May 7, 1956 "Lady of The House" was reduced back to 30 minutes. On June 6, 1956 Lawrence Welk was a guest.

    On February 1, 1957 Vere Kneeland hosted her last "Lady of The House." KLOR replaced her with host Jeri Lindsay. In March 1957 Vere rejoined KWJJ and they aired her taped interviews. In June 1957 Vere also became a special correspondent for "The Oregonian." Vere additionally had interviewed over her long career such celebrities as Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sophie Tucker & Lowell Thomas. On February 13, 2005 Vere Kneeland died at age 96 in Portland.

    References: Billboard magazine, The Oregonian.

    Posted on April 15, 2014 - 12:13 AM #
  2. semoochie

    It's interesting that KEX would fire the best person(at the job)in the country!

    Posted on April 15, 2014 - 08:53 PM #
  3. Craig_Adams
    Radio historian

    Could be Kneeland had been heard talking to KLOR before any of this, as KLOR was lining up personnel. KEX might not have wanted her crossing over to TV. You'll note the Kay West "brand" continued. Also in the New Kay West introduction ad, not mentioned in the history, KEX showed a picture of Elizabeth "Sherry" Vaughan and gave her credit for winning the two previous awards as Kay West. It gave me the impression KEX was not pleased with Kneeland's jump to TV.

    Then there is this: KEX and Westinghouse thought they had KEX-TV in the bag for channel 8 as far back as 1952. KEX learned of the FCC decision for a C.P. for KGW-TV on June 29, 1955. Westinghouse fought hard to get channel 8 but could not overcome Dorothy Bullitt's arguments. It was known how the precedings were going daily in the newspapers. It could be that during all those years Kneeland was waiting to jump to KEX-TV but when it didn't look promising she jumped to KLOR even though Westinghouse said it would continue to seek a TV license. Ultimately it was because of not being able to land a Portland TV license, Westinghouse sold KEX in 1962.

    Posted on April 16, 2014 - 12:40 AM #
  4. semoochie

    Was Westinghouse also in line for channel 2?

    Posted on April 16, 2014 - 09:41 AM #
  5. KQ4

    I couldn't find anything in The Oregonian archive about Westinghouse wanting Channel 2. However, an article from Oct. 30, 1950 had some interesting info: Fisher's Blend Station wanted Channel 2, KOIN wanted Channel 8, and Westinghouse wanted Channel 10.

    Posted on April 16, 2014 - 09:56 AM #