We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to pay our respects to the memory of George C. Hatch, a pioneer in the broadcast and cable television industries in the Intermountain West and a longtime friend and business partner of The Salt Lake Tribune . He died Sunday at the age of 89.
Hatch is best known as the founder of radio station KALL in 1945, which later became the flagship station of his Intermountain Network. He was not among the earliest broadcast pioneers in the state; he came after Earl J. Glade had started KSL (with the help of Tribune investment) and Sid Fox had established KDYL radio (a Salt Lake Telegram startup) and, later, KDYL-TV, which became what is now KTVX, Channel 4.
But Hatch was hot on the heels of that founding generation, and he and his wife and partner Gene Glasmann Hatch made a lasting impression on the industry. Gene Glasmann was heir to the Ogden Standard-Examiner , and the Glasmann-Hatch family published that newspaper for many years.
The Hatches expanded into television when they acquired KUTV, Channel 2, also in partnership with the owners of The Tribune .
One of this partnership's most farsighted enterprises was the founding of a cable television venture in Elko, Nev., in 1956. From that beginning grew Telecommunications, Inc. (TCI), founded in partnership with Bob Magness in 1968. That business became at one time the largest cable television system in the nation.
The original partnership also created TeleMation, a business under the direction of Lyle Keys that manufactured equipment for the cable television industry. Many of the company's products were Keys' inventions.
Tribune publisher emeritus John W. Gallivan remembers Hatch as one of the most intense business personalities he ever met. Hatch also applied that hard-driving single-mindedness to a cause outside of business, the preservation of some of Utah's most beautiful natural places. He and Gene played a role in the creation of Capitol Reef and Arches national parks, the expansion of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell), and the establishment of Antelope Island State Park.
Those places are monuments in themselves to the wonders of the natural world. But in some sense they also are monuments to farsighted Utahns like the Hatches who did their best to preserve them for future generations to behold and enjoy, sometimes on TV, but better yet, in person. For both, we can thank George Hatch.