BLACKFOOT – When Carl Watkins served part of his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Blackfoot, he probably didn’t expect to return and make his home here.
But that’s what happened. After working in radio around the West, he, his wife Linda and their children landed in Blackfoot about 1988. Most of them are still here.
Watkins’ voice may be familiar to people who listen to the Sounds of Sunday on KLCE radio. He started the program while working for the local station about 1997. He syndicated it in 2004. His version of the program is now available on 13 stations around the West.
The program has its roots in his mission.
Watkins’ radio journey has been a twisted one.
“I grew up in Linwood, Calif., which has the dubious distinction of being the home of Weird Al Yankovich,” he recalled. “As an only child, I had to keep myself occupied.”
He did so, he said, by playing a radio his parents gave him. He built that radio from a kit. It was the first step toward a lifetime as a radio engineer.
The following year, he recalled, he bought a tape recorder. That was the first step toward a career as an on-air personality.
“As a junior in high school I thought, “maybe that’s what I should do, like the guy on the radio,’” he said.
So he built a small radio transmitter. He and some friends created KLOD, which broadcast with five watts of power. They broadcasted their signal until a man from the Federal Communications Commission visited. Since they didn’t have a license, they faced substantial fines if they continued broadcasting.
Still, Watkins had found his life path.
His first real job in radio came at a station in Long Beach, Calif. He stayed there until receiving a call to serve in the LDS Church’s West Central States Mission.
“While serving in Lewistown, Mont., I recorded ministerial messages which they broadcast on the local radio station,” he recalled.
Upon his transfer to Blackfoot, Watkins approached the station manager at KBLI and was soon doing the same thing here.
Following his mission Watkins moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University and to serve in the Utah National Guard
But he didn’t complete his degree in electrical engineering because he got a job at KIGO in St. Anthony.
In retrospect, he said, “I probably shouldn’t have jumped out of college.”
Over the next few years he worked at KOVO and KEYY in Provo, at KNAK and KCPX in Salt Lake City and at Signetics, a company which was involved in the electronics industry. That’s where he met his wife Linda.
His radio journey continued, however, as he traveled to Santa Maria and San Bernadino, Calif.; Denver and Phoenix. He also made stops in Fresno, Calif., and Portland, Ore., before bouncing back to Utah.
About that time his radio persona, Dr. Carl, was born.
But Dr. Carl wasn’t earning enough money to care for Watkins’ growing family so the journey continued. He bounced between California and Utah “having a lot of fun.”
In 1987 he had an opportunity to go to Rexburg. Again he had fun, but when his paychecks started bouncing, he headed to Blackfoot. At KLCE he did a variety of technical jobs as well as working as an on-air personality.
He and Linda, who now works as a pie-maker at Homestead Farms, raised seven children, three of whom still live in the area. They have 15 grandchildren.
In addition to his work with Sounds of Sunday, which he hopes to grow nationally, Watkins is a contract engineer for the Educational Media Foundation.