from - PASSING THRU
BY John Rook
The estate like setting of my Northridge home had been all I ever
wanted. Life in California was all I had imagined after living in the
east. I spent many days on the beach at Malibu and Paradise
Cove, often evenings at elite celebrity gatherings and traveling to
Las Vegas via private jet on the weekends. Although life was good,
I felt I had tasted most of the good wine in life and longed to return
to my earlier upbringing in a rural setting.
I had traveled the nation, humidity, heat, urban sprawl and crime
chased me to north Idaho, where all of that was missing.
Summer looking north
Views of my little sliver of Idaho Paradise
Winter looking west
Two close friends, Neil Bogart and Bill Gavin urged me to follow
through. While sitting court side at a Lakers game Neil asked,
"What do you want to do with the rest of your life John?"
Explaining my boredom and desire to return to a more
reasonable life, Neil replied, "Then do it John....do it now before
its too late." A few weeks later Neil was gone, dead of cancer.
One of the recording industry icons had died in his 30's but not
before calling me from his hospital bed to say "I love you John,
Now go and do what we discussed."
My search for a new life would start the day after his burial. I
often think of both Neil and Bill and thank them for shoving me
away from California.
"Advising associates of my decision to move from California to
Idaho, one major recording executive asked if Coeur d'Alene
was anywhere near Des Moines. "Idaho", I replied..."not Iowa".
Winter from our front porch
Son Clifford and I arrived on July 4th, 1983. Later David would
arrive with his bride Rhonda and still later sister Dottie would call
Coeur d'Alene home. In time brother Charles would take a job
anchoring the news on a nearby Spokane TV station.
Raised in rural Nebraska, I grew up on the back of a horse. So
following 25 years in Denver, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los
Angeles, I was eager to return to the sanity of small town
America. Years earlier I learned of the beauty of north Idaho and
especially Coeur d'Alene. In the early 80's I visited and fell in love
with what would become my new home. Purchasing a small horse
ranch south of the city, I returned to a life of "fixing fence",
"cleaning the barn" and looking after my animal friends, Babe,
Lilly, Topper and Missy who represented my equestrian family.
Sundance, Lady, Tiny, Tammy and Cinder my canine family, also
allowed us to live with them in our new home.
In that first year I often questioned why I would have left
"the good life" in California for what was a totally different
existence. It was a time when Californians were not that
welcome in Idaho and I was not comfortable with this strange
new surrounding. The telephone kept me connected with my
friends of the past, but except for the ranch, I felt disconnected
here. It would take sometime before I began to be accepted
as a resident of Idaho and no longer "a damn Californian".
As the broadcast licensee of KCDA, I was first in the entire
northwest to introduce satellite fed programming to radio stations.
The Transtar network was attempting to complete with the much
larger Satellite radio network, so we were a prized addition to
that fledgling company operating out of Colorado Springs. I think
it took only a few days before it was obvious stronger air talent
was available via satellite, than I could attempt to mold myself.
Even with my expertise in creating programming, I found myself
faced with obstacles that would speed my decision to go satellite.
The key was to localize the satellite programming and we did so.
Most Arbitron ratings gave KCDA a #1 rating over all stations in
North Idaho even with those in nearby Spokane as competitors.
My partner, Luke Williams, was a pillar in the Spokane
community. As a pioneer and founder of American Sign, a
forerunner of electronic billboards, Luke was a staunch Christian
conservative who matched my financial stake in creating our
broadcast company. I liked Luke, a good partner and a good
friend. Watching me work for the first few weeks, he tipped,
�John, you�re too fast for the class�. Luke�s advice was invaluable
and introduction to his friends even more so.
I was surprised when the publisher of the nearby Spokane
Spokesman-Review, Bill Cowles, invited me to lunch,
applauded my stance in exposing issues important to the public,
and directed KCDA be given an annual advertising contract.
Ron Rankin, a brilliant gentlemen, was demonized by the local
Coeur d'Alene Press and it's owner, Duane Hagadone, who for
years held court as the owner of the local radio station, the
newspaper, various businesses and the Coeur d'Alene Resort. A
year after giving his daily commentary an airing on KCDA, Ron
ran for county commissioner and was elected. He departed this
world in 2004...but I still think of him almost daily.
I personally manned our KCDA booth�s at the county fairs in
North Idaho and Spokane and attended the various gatherings to
enlist listener comments.
Mathew & David
In 1985 son David introduced me to my grandson Mathew Rook
Mathew Rook & Garth Brooks
Our Real Country KCDA presented Garth Brooks, who took
time to furnish grandson Mathew Rook with a great "show
and tell" at school.
In 2004, tragedy claimed son David's life in a trucking accident.
He would have been so proud of Mathew, who chose a
career as a Georgia police officer.
Officer Mathew Rook
I was able to purchase Luke�s share of the company and became
sole owner of KCDA. I joined in adding a new FM radio station to
I also built new radio stations, KEYF in Spokane & KEYW in
Pasco, Washington as I began to establish my �Key chain� of
stations. I also arranged to add three additional fm stations in the
Spokane market in anticipation of congressional action
deregulating broadcast ownership rules. I unveiled a previously
unavailable format with Spokane�s Z-Rock and KCDA�s
Deregulation of the media was even more destructive than I
predicted. Perhaps it would have been best if regulators had not
allowed the monopolization of radio that resulted. A feeding frenzy
of unethical lawyers to devour anyone offering competition.
Within days of congressional passage the nations media was
gobbled up by three billionaires.
Deregulation chased most small owners out of radio and
within a year I was no longer an owner.
The system clearly didn't work for the small broadcaster relying
on regulatory agencies to protect them from the "over reaching"
of big public funded companies.
Jason Rook & his Sheba
Another member of our Idaho Rook family is nephew Jason Rook.
Over the years he brought great joy into my life. His good friend
Aaron Culpepper took up the task of training our horses.
Sadly while skiing with Jason in December 1997, Aaron would
suffer a fatal injury, hospitalized in a coma, only to die a week
later, one day after Christmas.
Aaron Culpepper, John & Topper
My favorite escape has always been the beaches of the Pacific.
A close second would have to be riding the trails and fishing the
streams of north Idaho. I awake every morning in deep
appreciation of my "little sliver of paradise", hidden from the
harshness of the real world.
John & Missy
John fishin' the St. Joe river
Sister Dottie made quite a difference at the ranch.
Retirement for both of us has been enjoyable with our dogs,
cats & horses.
Dottie with Topper & Lilly
That move to north Idaho more than twenty five years ago
provided me with many experiences. The southern California I
loved in the past is no more, the change is too much to bare. Life
here in "gods country" is bout' as good as it gets.
I'm very appreciative.
All Content on this Web site � 2008 John H. Rook
All Rights Reserved
All Content on this Web
site � 2005 John H. Rook
All Rights Reserved