When I was in elementary school, probably first through fourth grade, I used to listen to the radio every morning while eating breakfast. My mother would turn on the radio and tune it to 1310 AM, which was KLIX in Twin Falls. KLIX, just like KBOI in Boise at the time, was a full-service radio station. They played music, but they also talked about everything going on in town and did the best local news, in my opinion. The morning announcer was pleasant and funny, as I remember. His name was Dave Winter. He usually referred to himself as “The Winter Kid”. I think KLIX’s official music format was country, but I remember it more as almost an early 70’s adult contemporary. There was a lot more chart crossover then.
The first time I ever set foot inside a radio station, it was KLIX. I was an eight-year-old Cub Scout, and our pack took a field trip to KLIX. It was fun. The afternoon announcer put some of us on the radio and let us request songs. I think we got him to play “The Streak” by Ray Stevens and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce. That announcer’s name was Johnny Mac. After that field trip, I didn’t hear anything about Johnny Mac for 17 years. Then one day in 1990, when I was working at KIZN in Boise, Johnny walked in, introduced himself and told me he’d just been hired as the new sales manager. I told him the story of our previous meeting, and he told me I really knew how to make a guy feel old.
About twenty more years went by, and one morning on KBOI I talked about listening to KLIX in the early 70’s and how much it affected me and made me want to go into radio. I talked about Dave Winter and Johnny Mac. That next spring I was manning a shift at the annual kids’ fair when I met a woman named Bonny Chohrach. She told me she lived in McCall and that she had heard what I said about Dave Winter. She said Dave lived north of McCall in a cabin in the woods. We chatted for a short time, then she told me she would mention to Dave next time she saw him that I had talked about him. That was two or three or possibly four years ago. Last week, I got this email from Bonny Chohrach:
“Hi, Chris. I’m the lady who talked to you at Expo Idaho a couple years back about Dave Winter. I am very sad to tell you Dave passed away very suddenly last week at his cabin/home in the back country of west/central Idaho mountains. He was very pleased when I passed on your message that he had a little something to do with you going into radio, and he remembered fondly those days when you would go into the studio. With the area remoteness, KBOI is the only radio station that can be heard (and then only with a back-country booster). He was able to listen to you in the morning and was very proud of your accomplishments. He will certainly be missed in the Secesh Meadows community. Sincerely, Bonny Chohrach.”
I wrote back to Bonny and thanked her for informing me and for remembering to tell Dave about me in the first place. I think he was probably a very private person. I can’t imagine that somebody who lived in a cabin in the back country wouldn’t have been. I checked the Internet, and all I could find was that David F. Winter of Secesh Meadows died on January 11 and that he was 77 years old. That means that when I was listening to him on the radio, Dave was in his mid 30’s. It also means that he went by his real name, like I do.
Johnny and I haven’t worked together for awhile now, but we’re still friends, and I’m glad we are. I never got to know Dave Winter. I wish I had. But I’ll always feel like we were friends, too.