CLASS OF 1986
Don Searle was an oil company visionary who recognized the power of this new medium called radio. With the financial backing of his father’s Mona Oil Company, he built KOIL in 1924 and wound up launching a new career for himself.
The Searle family put KOIL on the air in Council Bluffs, Iowa, constructing what is said to be the first-ever building designed solely for the purpose of radio. When they sold KOIL in 1933, Don moved to Topeka, Kansas, as General Manager of WIBW.
Five years later Searle returned to Nebraska taking over the Central States Broadcasting System headquartered in Lincoln. It was a duopoly operation consisting of three stations—KFAB and KFOR in Lincoln, and coincidentally KOIL which by this time had moved to Omaha.
Searle moved on to bigger responsibilities and station ownership after leaving Lincoln in 1943. He was general manager at KGO San Francisco, then moved to Los Angeles as Vice President of ABC’s Western Division, and General Manager of KECA, which became KABC in 1946. He left ABC for health reasons in 1948.
During his corporate years on the West Coast, Searle kept his Midwestern ties through station ownership. He owned KMMJ Grand Island since 1936, then expanded his holdings with KXXX Colby, Kansas in 1948, and KFNF Shenandoah and KIOA Des Moines in 1957.
Searle sold his stations in the 1960s. After the sale of KMMJ in 1967, Seale left Grand Island and retired to his Monterey, California, home.
Don Searle died in Monterrey on October 31, 1971.