Steve Smith Archive: Les Cole


Ken Bertrand worked at KGMI in Bellingham. I believe he was the news director, not sure on that but one of their main newsmen. I do not have a photo of him, but you could probably copy the one at facebook. Again, this is March 1972. I worked for him for awhile at KBFW in Bellingham, after his KGMI days. I think he ended up in communications at the state legislature and retired from that. He is in the Seattle area.

Ken Bertrand mp3

As a young tradesman, Les Cole had been a stained glass artisan in Seattle-Tacoma. He fell from a ladder, probably working on a window at a church, and shattered his hip. A career change was essential. I think it was in the 1960’s, he went into broadcasting. He worked at KTNT, KMO and KOMO. In 1970 he arrived in Bellingham as program director of KOQT, a station coming back on the air after bankruptcy. That lasted a short time and then he resigned. Not long afterwards, he became news director at KBRC, an established 5kw station, in Mt Vernon’s Skagit Valley. This 1972 newscast, slightly scoped, is a great example of the way a well-crafted newscast could integrally tie a radio station to its community. Cole worked at KBRC for a few years, then he became an announcer at KVOS TV in Bellingham. He was at KVOS until he retired and Les passed away several years ago.

The photo was taken in 1998. That is me to the right, sitting with Les, who had become a personal and family friend, at my father’s 100th birthday.

Les Cole-KBRC mp3

Longtime entertainer Vaude deVille (also known as KTNT journalist Gene Lewis)

(((MAY 2015))) — Molly Gilmore/Tacoma News Tribune (excerpted) Show business was Cecil Vaude deVille’s life — so much so that he legally changed his name to reflect his art. He was a singer, actor and comedian, an active member of Thurston Community Television and a longtime writer for and star of shows produced by Wrinkles of Washington, a nonprofit that raises money for Senior Services of South Sound. He also had his own production company, Jupiter Troupe, which performed at retirement communities and nursing homes. Earlier in life, he’d worked as a radio journalist and served as news director of KTNT in Tacoma using the name Gene Lewis. DeVille reinvented himself throughout his life, with different careers as well as three different names, but performing was always a part of his life. DeVille, who grew up in New York and Pennsylvania, was born Eugene Levendoski and simplified his last name to Lewis as a young man. It wasn’t until 2000 that he became, legally, deVille. He had been struggling with health problems for several years, she said, and his health quickly declined after the February death of his third wife, Judith McCarthy, whom he married in 1992. While he was known for his comic talents, one of his proudest accomplishments was a serious one from his days at KTNT.
“He covered the 1970 Puyallup fishing rights wars,” Lewis said. “There was a huge controversy that actually wound up in violence. He did extended live coverage and was tear-gassed on the air. He won a national spot news award for that.”
A video of his final performance with Wrinkles of Washington shows a thin deVille singing a song he wrote. It begins, “All the world is a stage, and we each play a part,” and ends, “When the footlights go down, that’s the end of our show.”

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