In Memory

John Huddy Pool - Class Of 1936

John Pool  '36  founder of radio stations KBIG-AM and FM, Los Angeles television Channel 22, and Mount Palomar Winery in Temecula, died Christmas Day, 2003 at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana after a short illness.  He was 86.

Pool, whose life spanned careers from tuna fisherman, merchant seaman, and shipboard radio operator to radio and televison station founder and winery owner, was considered a groundbreaking innovator.  KBIG-AM, which Pool located on Catalina Island in 1952, beamed an unfettered signal to Southern California radio listeners, including live broadcasts from the S.S. Catalina, the "Great White Steamer".  Mount Palomar Winery, which Pool founded in Temecula in 1975, was the second winery in the new Southern California wine region.

Born in Detroit in 1917, the son of Colonel John Hudson Pool and Caroline Boeing, sister of Boeing aircraft founder William Boeing, Pool began his commercial broadcasting career at the age of 16 when he ran live radio broadcasts of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson from her temple on the Santa Monica pier.

Following certification as a radio engineer at the RCA Institute in Chicago, Pool became a radio operator, navigator, and fisherman on San Diego and San Pedro based tuna clippers, fishing off the Central American and South American coasts.  Later he was a Merchant Marine, Radio Operator, and Navigator in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

During World War II, Pool was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and then assigned to the Royal Air Force in Great Britain where he helped develop early military radar use.  He served as a company commander for tracking approaching German bomber flights of up to 900 planes during the Blitz, and developed counter-measures to German radar jamming methods.  He believed that countless lives were saved by their efforts.

It was in England that Pool met Olivia de Reya, whom he married in 1943 in the remains of a bombed chapel in London.  She became the first WW II European war bride to return to the U.S. with her G.I. husband.

Following the war, John Pool purchased 250-watt radio station KSMA in Santa Maria followed by KALI in Pasadena, which he changed to a Spanish language format.  In 1952 he moved on to found KBIG, known as "The Catalina Island Station".  KBIG was earmarked by innovative programming and boosted by the magnified signal strength, which Pool knew would be achieved by broadcasting the station's directional signal across ocean water.  That created full-strength radio coverage from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  The station became very popular presenting an Island theme and scheduling music, news, and commercials on a different sequence from his competitors.  "We knew if you changed stations during a commercial, you would always find music on KBIG," Pool claimed.

Ever the pioneer, Pool made early entry into the FM radio field and UHF television transmission.  By 1969, when Pool ended his broadcasting career, he had a major role in founding nine radio stations and four television stations.

Following the sale of his broadcast media interests, Pool began one of the early vineyards in Temecula.  He formed an association with Ely Callaway in 1969 to farm their separate vineyards as one.  Pool founded Mount Palomar Winery in 1975, one year after the Callaway operation began.  He believed that Temecula's favorable climate and its proximity to the large Southern California market would one day lead to success.  The winery continues to be operated by Pool's eldest son, Peter, 56.

John Pool is survived by his wife of 60 years, Olivia Pool of Corona del Mar, children Peter Pool of Temecula, Dr. John Pool of Redwood City, Caroline Pool and Claudia Futa of Denver, Angela Baldwin of Owings Mills, Maryland, and Mark Pool of Rockville, Maryland, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.