Governor Calvin Rampton, Utah’s only governor to serve three terms, and one of the state’s most influential residents, passed away Sunday, September 16, at the age of 93, after a long illness. As a tribute to his career and his life, KUED will broadcast Calvin Rampton: In His Own Words on Friday, Sept. 21, at 9 p.m. Bill Moyers Journal will temporarily move to Sunday, September 23, at 1 p.m., to accommodate this program.
The tribute program is drawn from a January 1994 interview KUED’s Ken Verdoia conducted with Rampton in observance of his 80th birthday. The resulting hour-long conversation covers the span of Rampton’s political service — from humbling political losses early in his career, to unprecedented public support that resulted in three terms as Utah’s Governor from1965-1977, and to his concerns about trends in politics. During the interview, Rampton reflects on the challenges and controversies of his years as Governor -- from “reinventing” the make up of government, to landmark projects like the construction of Interstate-80 and the Glen Canyon Dam. He also speaks frankly about his early support for U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and the lessons learned from blindly following national leaders that he considered trusted friends. Along the way, he speaks of his relationships with national figures such as the Kennedys, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter, and his dinner with Richard Nixon He recounts being at the White House on the evening Lyndon Johnson decided he would not run for re-election. He also recalls a very revealing dinner with a troubled President Nixon, at the height of the Watergate scandal. A moderate Democrat and a consummate politician, his experiences and perspectives were unmatched. “Fresh from college, Cal Rampton was the first Governor I covered as a very young reporter back in the 1970s,” says Verdoia, now KUED’s director of Production Services. “He was a master at building consensus. He was one of the few public officials who could convince people to set aside differences and work the problem at hand. He set the bar pretty high for my expectations of what should be expected from elected officials.” Adds KUED Broadcast Director Scott Chaffin, “he was the one of the wisest men to grace Utah’s political landscape and a dedicated friend of KUED.” Governor Rampton maintained a special connection to public television station KUED after he left public office in 1977, returning to the practice of law. He served for eight years on KUED’s Friends Board, providing oversight and support for the growth and development of public television. Even after his term of service ended, he maintained a steady presence at Board meetings as an emeritus member…shaping discussions of issues, events and challenges that could be addressed by KUED’s local productions.“Well into his 90s, the Governor would wave me over at a Board meeting,” recalls Verdoia. “And he would proceed to give me on-point analysis of an issue and its history in Utah. He told me ‘You love something by serving, not by talking about how much you love it.’ And that perfectly sums-up his love of Utah. He served.”