'Bernie' Calderwood of radio and TV dies

Published: Thursday, Nov. 6 2003 12:00 a.m. MST

Bernell M. "Bernie" Calderwood, 79, perhaps best-known as "Admiral Bernie" on KSL-TV from 1963-66, died Nov. 2, 2003.

A pioneer in Utah radio and television, he made his first debut in broadcasting at age 4 in 1928 when he played the harmonica on KDYL radio. At age 15 in 1939, he played the xylophone and marimba on the first experimental television telecast in Utah.

His professional premiere was on KMUR radio in 1948 when he started as an announcer. It was there he was first known as "Your Buddy Bernie."

Mr. Calderwood became production director and announcer at KDYL in 1952 and then moved to Salt Lake's Channel 4 TV, where he was a moderator for the Junior Council, a Cowboy Ranger, a Junior Auctioneer and "Captain K.C." for six years and then, on KSL Channel 5, "Admiral Bernie" for many years. He later hosted "The Big Money Movie" on KSL.

"Bernie" wrote other programs and handled public relations at KSL.

"He was just a class guy," KSL-TV anchor Dick Nourse said. "He always had something nice to say. . . . He was the same old Bernie on and off the air."

Nourse also said Mr. Calderwood was the kind of person who left a tender spot in people and that he interacted well with children. "He loved what he did."

Former Deseret News television editor the late Howard Pearson wrote in 1978 that on television Mr. Calderwood was always articulate, fast-talking, enthusiastic and almost glib. Mr. Calderwood told Pearson that his TV hosting roles were fulfilling "because I have the opportunity to bring some friendship, some feeling of community, some feeling of fun without being corny or childish."

"Bernie" attended East High and the University of Colorado. He graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor's in speech and radio. He served as a Marine in World War II in the South Pacific and worked briefly in advertising. He loved music and played the marimba at many weddings over the years.

Later in life, after several heart surgeries, he became the oldest person to receive a particular experimental device — the L-VAD — that kept him going for three years.

Funeral services will be Saturday, Nov. 8, 10 a.m., at the Heritage LDS 5th Ward Chapel, 6780 S. 3420 West. Friends may call on Friday, Nov. 7, 6-8 p.m., also at the Heritage Chapel. Burial will be in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.

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