Tom McCall Symposium



Oregon’s most colorful, quirky, and accomplished governor, Tom McCall (1913-1983), will be the subject of a two-day symposium in March. The many larger than life facts and fabrications surrounding McCall will be explored by both scholars and acquaintances of Oregon’s most beloved and, at times, controversial governor. McCall, a television journalist and political commentator, served as Oregon’s Governor during the socially and politically turbulent years of 1967-1975.

All sessions are independent of each other and will take place Friday, March 4th and Saturday, March 5th, at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center on Newport’s Bayfront. Parking is available at the top of the hill adjacent to the Maritime Center.

The symposium kicks off Friday evening, March 4th at 6:00 p.m. with a screening of McCall’s landmark 1962 KGW-TV documentary, “Pollution in Paradise” plus an introduction and post-screening Q&A led by William G. Robbins, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History, Oregon State University.

KGW-TV aired McCall’s famous documentary, “Pollution in Paradise,” a sharply critical report of the condition of the Willamette River. “Pollution in Paradise” was a tour de force, pressing home the powerful idea that there was no contradiction between jobs and quality of life in Oregon.

Day two of the symposium will open at noon Saturday. “Frenemies: Tom McCall and Bob Straub” will be the topic for Charles K. Johnson, biographer of former Governor Bob Straub. Although McCall and Straub faced each other for the governorship twice, they often worked together to advance environmental causes. Johnson’s book is “Standing at Water’s Edge: Bob Straub’s Battle for the Soul of Oregon.”

One of Oregon’s most prominent broadcast journalists from the 1970s and 1980s will also be presenting on Saturday. Paul Hanson, who has been a news director of several radio stations and was KATU’s political reporter in the early 1980s, will screen his documentary, “A Nice Place to Visit: The Legacy of Tom McCall.”

Also on the program: Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall, author of the alternate history novel about McCall, “McCallandia,” the product of extensive research and numerous interviews. Hall was a volunteer in McCall’s 1978 comeback campaign and met the former governor several times.

This symposium to be presented on March 4th & 5th is co-sponsored by the Lincoln County Historical Society and the Tom McCall Legacy Project, a non-profit educational group. The Legacy Project organization sponsored the McCall Day bill designating March 22nd as Tom McCall Day, and encourages all Oregonians to learn about McCall’s legacy.

Admission to the symposium is five dollars, and free for Lincoln County Historical Society members.

For more information about the Tom McCall Symposium, call 541-265-7509. For more information about the Tom McCall Legacy Project, visit:



bill-robbinsBill Robbins joined the faculty at Oregon State University in 1971, where he has taught courses in the History of the American West and Environmental History. He has authored and edited several books, including Oregon: This Storied Land (2006); Landscapes of Conflict: The Oregon Story, 1940-2000 (2004). His most recent book, A Man for All Seasons: Monroe Sweetland and the Liberal Paradox, was published in 2015 by Oregon State University Press.


charles-johnsonCharles K. Johnson is a Portland writer, fundraiser, and activist. A native Oregonian, he has been active min environmental politics since childhood. After a decade in national politics, working with Physicians for Social Responsibility and as Executive Director of Nuclear Free America, Johnson returned to Oregon, where he was instrumental in making a home for the Robert W. Straub Archives at Western Oregon University’s Hamersly Library. He is the author of Standing At The Water’s Edge: Bob Straub’s Battle for the Soul of Oregon, published in 2012 by Oregon State University Press.


paul-hansonPaul Hanson has been a broadcast journalist in radio and television for many decades. During most of Paul’s radio career he worked as a news director including his position as the first News Director of KYXI Radio, Portland’s first (and last) 24 hour All-News operation. Paul became the KATU -Television Political Reporter in 1978 and covered the 1979 through 1983 legislative sessions in Salem. In early 1982 Paul and photographer Bill Weaver were assigned to prepare a documentary focusing on the life and achievements of former Governor Tom McCall. While Paul was the Political Reporter at KATU, McCall was the station’s News Analyst and Commentator. The assignment was based on McCall’s health. He was battling cancer. Paul and Bill finalized production and “A Nice Place To Visit…The Legacy of Tom McCall” aired on Thursday, September 9th 1982. Paul Hanson is currently News Director at KFLS Radio in Klamath Falls.


bill-hallLincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall is the author of McCallandia, which is based on 40 years of admiration for Tom McCall and was the product of extensive research and numerous interviews. An Oregon native, Hall spent many years in journalism before making the transition to elective office. He was a volunteer in McCall’s 1978 comeback campaign and met the former governor several times.