Talk about a clean break. Friday, February 1st, McKinnon Broadcasting’s VP of Engineering Richard Large appeared on KUSI briefly as the station celebrated his retirement. The next week he was settling into his new home in Idaho Falls with his wife of 44 years, Edith.
He learned electronics in the Air Force and wisely took courses that would lead to an FCC First Class Radiotelephone license–a ticket to a good job in 1968. He first worked at WBTW (TV) in Florence, SC weekends while still in the Air Force.
After his discharge in 1970, Richard went to work in Decatur, Illinois at ABC affiliate WAND. What he remembered most about his years there was an ice storm in 1978 that took down the tower and destroyed the transmitter building. He and the other engineers managed to salvage the RCA transmitter and build a new shelter for it, having it back on the air in four days.
In 1980, Tom Wimberly, who had worked with Richard in Decatur, hired him to work at KCST in San Diego. He stayed about a year before moving on to WPHL in Philadelphia.
Richard answered an ad and put KUSI on the air in 1982 with a leased package of gear from RCA that included a TTU-55 channel 51 UHF transmitter, three TK-760 studio cameras, a TK-86 portable camera, and a TK-27 telecine system.
Richard helped the McKinnon family plan and oversee construction of a TV station in Austin to add to the group’s properties in Corpus Christi and Beaumont, Texas. And he was given the title of Corporate Chief Engineer.
In 1990, the McKinnon’s bought out the remaining financial interest of the United States International University, freeing them to invest in a news department. Richard was challenged to create a news facility on Viewridge Avenue in Murphy Canyon and have the news on the air within six weeks. With only his crew, they installed everything including the electrical wiring and had their first newscast on September 13, meeting the challenge.
He was given the title of Vice President of Engineering for the McKinnon group and oversaw the Corpus Christi station move to another site.
Richard saw two fires overcome Mt. San Miguel where the KUSI transmitter is located. During the first one (he doesn’t remember the year), Tom Wimberly of KNSD and he were taken to the top to survey the damage. Neither had lost their building, but neighboring buildings were destroyed. In 2007, he drove up the mountain with Fred Swift through the Harris Fire and found smoke billowing off of the roof. He lifted buckets of water that Fred filled and put out the fire, saving the building and its contents.
KUSI’s trademark has been its low cost but highly watched newscasts, and Richard has always come through with ways to stretch the dollar, most recently with JVC high definition cameras, Bitcentral file management system, and HD production system.
Besides his wife Edith, Richard has two daughters–Laura and Rachael, their husbands and grandkids living in the Idaho Falls, Idaho area. He looks forward to a restful retirement.