George Snell papers, 1928-1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Snell, George D.(George Dixon), 1909-
George Snell papers
1928-1984 (inclusive)
2.5 linear feet
Collection Number
The George Snell papers (1928-1984) document early radio in Salt Lake City, Utah, at station KDYL and the development of United Broadcasting Company in San Jose, California. A majority of the collection documents early radio programming through radio scripts that Snell wrote. The collection also covers the developmental phase, sale, and acquisition of radio stations. George Snell (b. 1909) was born on 4 April 1909. He developed a love for the raido at an early age and played a major role in the development of Utah and California Radio.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Telephone: 801-581-8863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

George Snell (b. 1909) was born on 4 April 1909, to George Dixon and Ivy Belle Price Dixon. Snell was raised mainly in Utah, and for a time in St. Anthony, Idaho. Snell's interest in radio began early in the 1920s when he first constructed an oatmeal box crystal set and when he later became well acquainted with Stan Stoule, a West High classmate and licensed ham. With Stoule's basement radio station and license, Snell became proficient in Morse code and was quickly bitten by the radio bug. In 1925, Snell passed an examination by the Federal Radio Commission and received an operating license with the call 6AKM. Phil Lasky, general manager of KDYL, took advantage of the young man's skills, contacted him, and made Snell part of the KDYL staff in 1927. Eventually, Snell's career at KDYL would run the gambit from program announcer and script writer to program director, from 1938 until he left in 1944.

Snell left Salt Lake City in 1945 to write and produce "The Standard Hour" and "The Standard School Broadcast" for KPO NBC in San Francisco, California. While at NBC, Snell and Floyd Farr developed plans to build a radio station in San Jose, California, a small, burgeoning town with only one radio station. With a hold on construction permits after World War II (WWII), Farr and Snell, with the monetary help of philanthropist George Mardikian, were fortunate enough to be awarded a permit from the FCC and began construction and formation of radio KEEN in 1947. KEEN struggled with a network emulated station format until Snell and Farr broke the mold and tried an all country and western format of popular, recorded music. The birth of modern radio had been witnessed. The new formula proved to be the success of KEEN, and was later applied to the development of KBAY, KVEG, KFIG, KFOA, and KAHU under the parent image of United Broadcasting Company.

Snell continued to be active in radio, even when his sons controlled KBAY and KEEN. Alongside Snell's radio career is his literary career as an author and respected literary critic. From 1934 1968, Snell corresponded with well known writer Vardis Fisher. Snell published three novels in the 1930s: The Great Adam (1934), Root, Hog and Die (1936), and And If Man Triumph (1938). He also had lengthy discussions with Fisher about many literary matters, especially the value of Steinbeck and Hemingway. In addition, in 1947 he published Shapers of American, a still used anthology of biographies of well known American authors. In 1988, he

Far from containing his life to two main interests, Snell supported community activities. Among many activities, he was on the board of directors of the Salvation Army, a member of the San Jose Light Opera Association, president of the board of directors of the San Jose City Library, member of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, and president of the San Jose Advertising Club. The diversity and entrepreneurial genius of Snell is readily depicted in his collection: the radio ham, the "format" genius, the published author, and the sensitive literary critic are equally displayed.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The George Snell papers (1928-1984) document early radio in Salt Lake City, Utah, at station KDYL and the development of United Broadcasting Company in San Jose, California. A majority of the collection documents early radio programming through radio scripts that Snell wrote. The collection also covers the developmental phase, sale, and acquisition of radio stations. Although the collection centers on radio scripts, the preparation papers for the sale of radio stations are a useful insight into modern radio developments and concerns. Another large section includes correspondence from Vardis Fisher, Ellis Foote, Grant H. Redford, and other western writers.

The collection is divided into three sections: Personal Materials, Early Radio Days, 1927 1947, and United Broadcasting Company. The first section, Personal Materials, contains biographical materials that portray both the radio and literary sides of George Snell. One of the largest categories in this section is the Vardis Fisher material, box two. Fisher and Snell had extensive correspondence from 1934 until Fisher's death in 1968. The correspondence delineates Snell's reviewing ability, Snell's and Fisher's reactions to several world wide events, a wager over their literary disagreement about Steinbeck and Hemingway, Fisher's Testament of Man series, and other topics. In addition to the correspondence are reviews, interviews, biographical materials, and other miscellanea.

The personal materials section also contains correspondence from Ellis Foote, Grant H. Redford, Ira J. Kaar, and others. Snell's correspondence with Foote, a western poet, was colorful and, at times, demonstrably graphic. The Foote correspondence characterizes Foote as a troubled and struggling poet with a vengeance for expletives. The Kaar correspondence is a smaller file with several letters about the early Utah radio days at KDYL where Kaar built its first radio transmitter. The Redford correspondence deals with the administrative and selective matters of the Rocky Mountain Review, a literary publication controlled by Snell and Redford.

The second section, Early Radio Days, 1927 1947, documents the early portion of Snell's radio career at KDYL in Salt Lake City and at KPO NBC in San Francisco. The majority of material in this section is radio scripts written by Snell. At KDYL, Snell wrote scripts for advertising companies and products. These scripts are listed alphabetically by company name. Snell was affiliated with KDYL for almost twenty years and served in many capacities: announcer, program director, writer, and others. KDYL radio scripts are in box three. In 1945, Snell left Salt Lake to write for NBC in San Francisco. As part of his duties, Snell wrote and produced "The Standard Hour" and "The Standard School Broadcast" from 1945 until he left in 1947. KPO NBC scripts are located in boxes four and five. Snell characterized his radio days at NBC as some of the best in his career. For a brief period, he continued to write and produce "The Standard" scripts, even after he left NBC in 1947 to form station KEEN in San Jose, California, with Floyd Farr and George Mardikian.

The third section, United Broadcasting Company, documents the formation of KEEN in San Jose and the sale of KFIG, KVEG, KFOA, and KAHU. The United Broadcasting Company was formed by Snell, Floyd Farr, George Mardikian, owner of "Omar Kharryam," a popular restaurant with its own radio show, and several others. The company began with KEEN, and the initial formation is documented in box six. The sale of later acquired stations is documented in boxes six and seven. This section provides the most business related information of radio in the collection. It is a good source of material documenting in the sale and acquisition of radio stations.

Although the Snell collection leans heavily toward the script production of early radio in Salt Lake City and San Francisco, it also documents and portrays the early entrepreneurial spirit of post World War II radio geniuses. Snell, Farr, and George Mardikian, their philanthropist friend/business partner, developed some of the most popular music formats, including "beautiful music" and cowboy western, across the country. The collection, in addition to portraying early radio scripts, captures the aggressive beginnings of popular radio from the early 1920s to the present.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: George Snell papers, MS 0556, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations: MS 0556.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Personal MaterialsReturn to Top

This series contains a collection of biographies and reminiscences, by George Snell, about his early days in radio in Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Jose and San Francisco, California. Also included are business cards, newsclippings, several photocopies of newspaper columns written by Snell, and correspondence with Ellis Foote, Ira J. Kaar, and Grant H. Redford.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Biographical Material
The folder contains "Personal Reminiscences" of Snell's youth, San Jose radio experience, and NBC days in San Francisco and a terse biography in brief galley.
1 2
Biographical Material and Newspaper Clippings
1 3
Ad Club Newspaper Clippings
1 4
Business Cards
Thid folder contains business cards documenting Snell's affiliations with several radio stations: KAHU, KEEN, KBAY, KCVR, KVEG, United Broadcasting Company, and The Golden Pacific Group. Also included is a business card from Sidney S. Fox.
1 5
This folder contains Snell's "Here 'Tis" columns in The San Jose Mercury.
1 6
Ellis Foote Correspondence
This folder contains colorful correspondence concerning Foote's poetry, reviews of Foote's work, criticisms about the poetry published in the Rocky Mountain Review, and Foote's decision to stop writing poetry. Also included is a poem dedicated to Snell entitled "Coruscations."
1 7
Ira J. Kaar Correspondence
This folder contains correspondence about the beginnings of KDYL in Salt Lake City and the beginnings of both Snell and Kaar in the radio business.
1 8-13
Grant H. Redford Correspondence
Folder 8 contains correspondence regarding story selection, advertising, and subscription to of the Rocky Mountain Review.
1 14
Broadcasters Hall of Fame Newsclippings
This folder contains newsclipping about the Broadcasters Hall of Fame project conducted by Dr. Timothy L. Larson, University of Utah Department of Communication, to collect early Utah radio papers.
1 15
Occupational Review and Exhibit
A written portfolio delineating Snell's abilities as a radio executive and his responsibilities and achievements at KDYL. The portfolio was written by Snell for the purpose of seeking employment with NBC radio in San Francisco, California.
1 16
The folder contains photocopies of these photographs. The original photographs were removed and placed in the Audio Visual/Photographic Archives.
1 17
Radio Operator Licenses
1 18
Snell Radio Plays
Vardis Fisher Material
This subseries contains spirited correspondence concerning Fisher's Testament of Man book series, Snell's review of his work, a debate over the authorial merit of Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, and general topics. Also included are clippings of Fisher's column, biographical material, interviews, publication notices, reviews, two small publications, and correspondence with Fisher's widow, Opal Laurel Holmes Fisher.
Box Folder
2 1
Biographical Material
This folder contains articles and publications concerning Fisher's life and work. Also included is the un cashed check payment of the wager between Snell and Fisher on the literary career and merit of both Steinbeck and Hemingway.
2 2
Column Newspaper Clippings
2 3-10
Vardis Fisher Correspondence
2 11
Opal Fisher Correspondence
2 12
Vardis Fisher and Harry Schwartz Correspondence
This folder contains published correspondence in "The Bookmark."
2 13
2 14
Richard J. Pead Correspondence
This folder contains correspondence with George Snell regarding Pead's biography of Fisher.
2 15
Interviews of Vardis Fisher
2 16
Publication Notices
2 17
Fisher Publications
This folder contians two short publications: "The Novelist and His Background," Western Folklore, January 1953, and "Excerpt from a Letter from the Author to the Publisher," 21 December 1942.
2 18
Reviews of Vardis Fisher
This folder contains newsclippings of reviews of The Golden Rooms, Orphans in Gethsemane, and The Island of the Innocent. Also included is a pamphlet "Vardis Fisher News" with favorable and unfavorable reviews of We Are Betrayed. Some reviews are written by Snell.

Early Radio DaysReturn to Top

This series documents the early days of Snell's radio career while he resided in Salt Lake City and later in San Francisco, California. The materials cover his career at KDYL in Salt Lake City, Utah, and his brief stay at KPO NBC radio in San Francisco. Most of the early materials are radio scripts advertising both companies and products. Because the company is the focus of each production, the scripts have been listed alphabetically by company name. The later materials, at KPO, are radio scripts of "The Standard School Broadcast" and "The Standard Hour."

Container(s) Description Dates
KDYL Radio
Box 3, folders 5-55 contains Radio Scripts.
Box Folder
3 1
This folder contains correspondence and a newspaper article concerning the new broadcasting center for KCPX, originally KDYL.
3 2
3 3
Program Sheets
3 4
"Who's Dancing Tonight?" Radio Programs
This folder contains a proposal for one of the first out of studio broadcasts produced for publicity purposes in the Starlight Gardens of the Hotel Utah.
3 5
Altorest Memorial Corporation
3 6
American Fur Company
3 7
American Mutual Building and Loan Company
3 8
Anderson Lumber Company
3 9
Arthur Frank
3 10
Bailey and Sons Company
3 11
Barnett and Weiss Jewelers
3 12
Becker Brewing Company
3 13
Beneficial Life Insurance Company
3 14
Boyd Park Jewelers
3 15
J. S. Burnham
3 16
Capitol Cleaners and Dyers
3 17
Coconut Grove, Covey Amusement Company
3 18
Deseret Federal Savings and Loan Association
3 19
Dinwoodey Furniture Company
3 20
E. B. Wicks Company
3 21
Eureka Vacuum Cleaner Company
3 22
Firestone Auto Supply and Service
3 23
Fisher Baking Company
3 24
Furmbilt of New York
3 25
Grand Central Markets
3 26
Hewlett Brothers
3 27
Jensen Jewelers
3 28
Junior Chamber of Commerce and Sponsors
3 29
Dr. E. E. Keller
3 30
Kitchen Kwizz Presentation
3 31
Mutual Loan Company
3 32
Nehi Beverage Company of Utah
3 33
New Myers Cleaning and Dyeing Company
3 34
Paint Dealers
3 35
Panek Fur Company
3 36
Par Soap
3 37
Participating Coal Company
3 38
People's Finance and Thrift Company
3 39
Porter Walton Company
3 40
Professional Pharmacy
3 41
Prudential Federal Savings and Loan Association
3 42
Retail Lumber Dealers Association
3 43
Star Laundry
3 44
State Building and Loan Association
3 45
Success Markets
3 46
Thompson Indian Trading Post
3 47
Tracy Loan and Trust Company
3 48
Union Trust Company
3 49
Used Car Dealers
3 50
Utah Finance Company
3 51
Utah Oil Refining Company
3 52
Walker Bank and Trust Company
3 53
Westinghouse Company
3 54
Yellow Cab Company
3 55
Radio Scripts
KPO NBC, San Francisco Radio
This subseries is a collection of radio scripts, information concerning the Stanford NBC KPO Radio Institute, and miscellaneous administrative and advertising material for KPO radio. Box 4, folders 8-15 contain radio scripts.
Box Folder
4 1
4 2
Annual Review
4 3-4
Interdepartmental Correspondence
4 5
Rate Cards
This folder contains a proposal for one of the first out of studio broadcasts produced for publicity purposes in the Starlight Gardens of the Hotel Utah.
4 6
Service Newsletters
4 7
Stanford NBC KPO Radio Institute
This folder contains bulletins, correspondence, and other material concerning the institute.
4 8
"Barbara Tate for Golden State"
4 9
"The Friends"
4 10
"How Does Your Garden Grow"
4 11
"Jolly Bill and Jane"
4 12
4 13
"Through a Woman's Eyes"
4 14-15
"Tonite at Nine Thirty"
5 1
"The Standard Hour"
5 2-4
"Standard School Broadcast"
Folder 2 contains the "18th Annual Course Guide." Folder 3 contains the "20th Annual Course Guide."

United Broadcasting CompanyReturn to Top

The United Broadcasting Company was formed by Snell, Floyd Farr, and George Mardikian. The company began with one station, radio KEEN in San Jose, and expanded to include KEEN, KBAY, KAHU, KCVR, KFOA and KVEG stations across the United States. This series documents the sale of several stations and the initial formation of KEEN.

Container(s) Description Dates
This subseries contains business papers, correspondence, and reports concerning the sale of KAHU and the default on payment by Russell M. Withers, Jr. There are also materials concerning the partnership of KCVR, and the formation of KEEN and later KEEN KBAY station. Box 6, folders 1-7 contain KAHU materials. Box 6, folder 8 contains KCVR matierials. Box 6, folders 9-22 contain KEEN materials.
Box Folder
6 1
Amortization Report
6 2
6 3
Preparation Papers
This folder contains information concerning the sale of stock and several revised copies of the promissory note.
6 4-7
Preparation Papers
These folders contain business papers documenting the financial aspects, legal concerns, and other arrangements regarding the sale of KAHU radio station.
6 8
Partnership Agreement
6 9
General Summary
This folder contains a general summary of the formation of KEEN and its activities in the public sphere of San Jose, California, in the publication San Jose: California's First City, by Edwin A. Beilharz and Donald O. DeMers, Jr.
6 10-12
Broadcasting Articles
6 13
Newspaper Clippings
6 14
Application for Operating Permit
6 15
This folder contains correspondence with Floyd Farr about forming a new radio station in San Jose, California.
6 16
Financial Material
6 17
Incorporation Information
6 18
6 19
Opening Publicity
6 20
Radio Scripts
6 21
Rate Cards
6 22
Box 7,folders 1-11 contain KFIG materials. Box 7,folder 12 contains KFOA materials. Box 7,folders 13-18 contain KVEG materials.
Box Folder
7 1
7 2-4
Kadota Wireless Financial statements
7 5
Ownership Report
7 6-9
Preparation Papers
7 10
Promissory Note
7 11
Universal Broadcasting Company Financial Statement
7 12
Sale Contract
7 13
Promissory Payments
This folder contains check stubs of payments applied to promissory note.
7 14
Escrow, Promissory Note
7 15-17
Preparation Papers
7 18

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Radio broadcasting--West (U.S.)--History--Sources
  • Personal Names :
  • Snell, George Dixon, 1909- --Archives
  • Corporate Names :
  • KDYL (Radio station: Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • KPO (Radio station: San Francisco, California)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Brochures
  • Contracts
  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums
  • Newsletters
  • Radio scripts