Tag Archives: 1941

1941, The Year Everything Changed

Les Keiter, just before graduation, in his ZBT Fraternity house

First job:   Following his graduation from University of Washington, Les Keiter got a job as a summer relief announcer on KGA Radio in Spokane, Washington.   On July 1st, 1941, Les was officially on the air!  His  first duties ever as a broadcaster were reading program notes between shows, reading news breaks, station identifications, etc.  After he had been on the job for 3 or 4 days, the program director brought Les into his office and said, ”You’ll never make it in this business.  If I were you, I’d learn to drive a truck or something.”  Les had a 2-month iron-clad contract for July and August of 1941, so he felt safe for 7 more weeks, at least.

Second job:  Les got a call from J. Elroy McCaw, who would employ Les many times throughout his career.  He owned KELA radio in the twin cities of Centralia-Chehalis, WA and heard Les on the air.  He hired Les to start September 1st to break him in as Assistant Sports Director.  So, in his Model A Ford, Keiter drove with his parents to Centralia-Chehalis. The next morning, Les began his 2nd radio job, which included sweeping the place!  So, finally, in the fall of 1941, Les Keiter began to learn the real ropes of the business.

Les Keiter (left) on the job at KELA. Other photographees unknown





Then, of course his world and everyone’s dramatically changed forever.  2 months in to Keiter’s second job, December 7th, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. KELA was taken off the air the next day, as were most west coast stations, because of the anticipated invasion of the Pacific Coast by the Imperial Forces of Japan.

Les Keiter’s Youth, Briefly

Keiter started in the Montlake District of Seattle, with parents Jake and Dolly Keiter, where they lived until he was 4 years old.  From there, the family moved to the Capitol Hill District, and in 1923, Les’ younger brother, George “Buddy” Keiter, was born.

Les and Buddy Keiter at Camp Orkila

From age 9, Les and Buddy spent summers at Camp Orkila on Orcas Island of the San Juan Islands.   Les’ prime interest at Orkila was Softball – he played until he got blisters, and then played some more.  At 9 years old, it was at Camp Orkila that Les informed his camp buddies that he intended to announce from Yankee Stadium when he was grown.  About 30 years later, that dream came true.  And in 1997, the baseball field at Camp Orkila was renamed “Keiter Park”.


Les attended Seward Elementary School and then Broadway High School in Seattle.

He got his college education at University of Washington, where he was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.  Les Keiter graduated in 1941.  While attending U of W, Les played on the Baseball team in left field.   He could be heard announcing the entire game, except when he was up at bat.  Spectators came and crowds increased just to hear Les Keiter announce.

A side note: Les’s father, Jake Keiter, was quite an athlete in his youth.  He was asked to try out for the Chicago White Sox.