Herb Jepko was inducted into the
Utah Association of Broadcaster's
Hall of Fame
June 3rd 2003

The ceremony was attended by Herb's widow, Patsy Jepko Brown; their daughter Kitty Brown; former editor of The Wick, Marie Springer, other nitecaps and fans of the show. One of the highlights was a five minute video documentary produced by students in the communications program at the University of Utah. Copies of that documentary are available in return for donations to the Herb Jepko Memorial Scholarship at the University of Utah.

 
The Hall of Fame Induction
 
 

"Before I read Herb Jepko's plaque, I just want to add a personal note. In 1960 I went to work as the PR director for Hercules. One day I got a call from Herb and he asked: "How many people do you have working the midnight shift?" I said: "I don't know, but I'll find out." So I found out and I called him back and my curiosity was aroused and I said: "Why do you want to know that?" He said: "It just seems a shame to me that KSL radio turns off its 50,000 watts of clear channel power at 11:00pm or midnight every night. It seems to me like there's a better use of that facility and I'm trying to start this nighttime program." So that was my first inkling of the Nitecap phenomenon that was about to spring forth.

Dale Zabriskie, President of the Utah Broadcasters Association, 3 June 2003

 
 

Herb Jepko's plaque reads:

"Over the span of three decades, Herb Jepko used radio and a soothing voice to connect thousands of listeners throughout the country. His Nitecap radio show began in 1964 and tapped into a segment of the elderly population that often went unheard. From midnight till 6:00am, Herb and his listeners discussed everything from the weather to the watermelon crop, but never politics or religion. This controversy-free environment created loyal audiences on KSL and other stations including stints on national networks. Herb Jepko's Nitecap show pioneered national talk radio and he created a culture served by his magazine and conventions as well as a lasting impact until he signed off in 1990."

 
 

"It was quite an adventure. I just want to thank all of you. I am sure Herb would have been so pleased."

Patsy Jepko Brown, 3 June 2003

 
 

"Many a night Herb Jepko accompanied me as I drove through Montana on my way to my job as a midnight disk jockey. While it was the elderly who called in frequently, in college we all knew the Nitecap song. You knew night after night what you were going to get. That's the hardest thing to do in entertainment - to be consistent."

Craig Wirth, 3 June 2003

 
 

"One aspect of Herb's program that hasn't been mentioned today was his phenomenal memory. Sarah from Des Moines would call and Herb would say: "Sarah, last time we talked you had a bad cold. How are you feeling now?" It was amazing that he had that kind of recall of the people who called into the show."

Dale Zabriskie, President of the Utah Broadcaster's Association, 3 June 2000

(Photo of Patsy, Kitty, and Marie Springer prior to the ceremony.)

 
 
Scenes from the student-produced video documentary

 

 

       
 


NITECAP THEME "The Mutual Broadcasting System presents the Herb Jepko Nitecap Show . . ."

ANCR: In 1964, Herb Jepko went on the air broadcasting to thousands of listeners in what would come to be known as the Nitecap Radio Movement. Herb Jepko was raised in Prescott Arizona. During a brief stint in the military, Herb became interested in the communication ability of radio. Upon leaving the Army, Herb met and married the love of his life, Patsy. The couple moved to Salt Lake and concentrated on raising their children.

PROF BUCHMAN: It was also on in an era, in the 1960s, before 24-hour broadcast television, long before cable TV, before FM radio had any significant audience, and most AM stations were off the air. So if you were lonely, or afraid, or ill, or awake in the middle of the night for any reason, there just weren't a lot of other media options like we have today.

ANCR: Early in his career, Herb worked on a late night radio show on KCPX before moving to KSL. It was during this time that he became interested in the potential of reaching out to a late-night audience.

PROF BUCHMAN: Herb had gone to the management (of KSL) and really felt a connection with this late night audience from work he had done on another station earlier. It wasn't a talk show but he would take calls off the air as people would call in in the middle of the night. He knew there was an audience out there. So KSL made the decision to go ahead and broadcast from midnight to six.

ANCR: The Herb Jepko show debuted on February 11th, 1964. The format of the show was a call-in talk show.

HERB JEPKO: We're talking about the crops, and we talk about the weather, and we talk about animals, and we talk about where people have been, where they are going. And people calling us know they aren't going to be embarrassed because I won't embarrass them. I feel priviledged and honored that they have decided at that strange hour of the morning to call me in the first place from Maryland or Florida or Texas or the Midwest or wherever they are calling from.

ANCR: Much of Herb's success in radio was due to his friendly nature.

PROF DENTON: He had a heart of gold. You saw that in his program in the way that he interacted with people no matter what their station was in life and even carried that beyond his radio program when he ended up at the Utah Humane Society. A warmth, a glow, that really you would not expect to see in most people.

HERB JEPKO: So when somebody calls, I am there as a listener. We all need someone to talk to, and I'm the guy they call to talk to, to tell me their story.

ANCR: Herb's listeners became known as Nitecaps and within a year of the show's premiere, Nitecaps were organizing clubs called Nitestands, all over the country.

PROF BUCHMAN: Herb had this ability to empathize with his audience, to truly connect with them, and then beyond that, to connect them with each other.

ANCR: One of ways Herb was able to connect with this family was The Wick magazine. It was a way for the Nitecaps to get to know one another and to form relationships with people that had similar interests.

PROF DENTON: It was a magazine that was primarily contributions from the radio listening audience. Either short stories, personal essays, memoirs, poems, or recipes. Herb very much wanted to make sure that the organization he ran was very similar to what he envisioned for the Nitecap organization -- which was a big family. So that he was concerned about people as individuals.

ANCR: It was that family environment that brought listeners back night after night.

PROF BUCHMAN: Herb really had a way to reduce loneliness, and to diminish fear, and to connect people who needed relationships with others and that were missing them for whatever reason.

ANCR: The Herb Jepko show remained in the hearts of listeners long after it went off the air in the 1980s. The show had brought thousands of people together and formed a tight-knit community that gave Nitecaps a strong sense of well being.

PROF BUCHMAN: Herb's show was popular because Herb made it about the listeners, he didn't make it about himself. His return on investment was in the hearts of the people he was connecting with. And while that's not so easily measured, it is worthy of being valued, and it is why he truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

NITECAP THEME: " . . . on the Jepko side of the day, on the brand new side of the day . . ."