Whoa! Who asked for a philosophy lecture? All I really want to do is write a little history column about a man who was a broadcasting institution in the Treasure Valley for nearly 40 years. Others have been on the air longer. Tom Scott and Paul J. Schneider come to mind, but there are few who played more roles in broadcasting than Marty Holtman.
Holtman began in 1961 at KBOI television and drifted over to KBOI radio shortly after. He worked most of his career for one or the other and often both.
“I did a kid’s show on TV, then walked across the hall and did a DJ show,” Holtman said. “Then I’d come back to the television side and sit in the director’s chair for the news, then hop up to do the weather, then slip back to the booth to direct.”
Holtman was the radio morning man for years before Dunn and Schneider started their long partnership on KBOI, getting up at 4:15 am every day for the “Yawn Patrol.” His hats included news anchor, DJ, weatherman, documentary maker, kid show host, director, music director, producer, writer, telethon host, and Claude Gloom, horrific host of movie nights on Channel 2.
As “Gloom” he wore a fright wig, heavy makeup—including a dangling eyeball—and introduced the segment by rising out of a coffin. He started a fan club called the “Dracula Deadbeats.” Young viewers wanted to meet this Claude Gloom character so much they arrived in throngs at the Channel 2 studios while he was on the air and banged on the doors. The station had to call the police. The teenage reaction to the show did not go unnoticed by parents. Someone worked up a petition asking the station to take the show off the air because it was keeping kids up too late on Friday nights. They gathered 8,000 signatures. After airing the program for eight months, the station finally dropped it.
As a TV weatherman in the early days, Holtman had none of the computer-generated graphics we’re used to seeing today. He had magnetic sun symbols, clouds, rain, etc., that he slapped on a metal map. He wrote in temperatures with a marker having memorized them before the red light on the studio camera came on. Commercials were recorded on film, which was prone to breaking. Holtman was always ready with something to say about the weather elsewhere in the country if a film broke and he had to fill time.
Some of the same technical issues, such as breaking tape, plagued him on the radio side. Holtman was always prepared, planning his morning shows a day ahead of time, writing himself scripts and jokes to read between records. He played mostly top 40 tunes, though he’d throw in a polka at least once a day to keep listeners on their toes. In the 60s he was forbidden to play “race records” as they were sometimes called. That meant no Motown, which he personally loved.
From the late 70s until he retired in 1999, Marty Holtman moved full-time to television. He reported, did local segments that aired during the CBS Morning Show, and kept the Treasure Valley informed about the weather. He also started a promotion that became an institution on Channel 2, Marty’s Santa Express. He took children from the Mountain States Tumor Institute on Christmas adventures, often to Hawaii, and at least once to North Pole, Alaska. He, along with producer Mark Montgomery and cameraman Clyn Richards, received a regional Emmy for that in 1989. In 2000, Marty Holtman received the Silver Circle Award for lifetime achievement from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.