In Episode 2 of the Mystery Wire podcast, George Knapp interviews former KLAS-TV news director Bob Stoldal about the Area 51 story, and his dedication to finding out what was going on at the secret base.
Gary Francis Powers and the U-2 spy plane, the F-117A stealth fighter, a JFK visit, and a Naval Intelligence visit to the KLAS studios were all interesting parts of the story. But it was the Nevada Test Site that originally grabbed Stoldal’s interest. Nuclear bombs were being set off near Las Vegas, and the people who worked at the test site were mostly Las Vegas locals. Stoldal recognized the importance of a story that the media had come to disregard because it wasn’t a surprise anymore.
A brief summary follows. Listen to the podcast for details never shared publicly about the challenges in covering the story.
Matt Adams: To get to the genesis of all this, how did it all get started? We know how it all started videowise, the stories we’ve seen. But behind the scenes, how did it all get started?
George Knapp: Generally, we get either the credit for … or blame for … putting Area 51 on the map. that series that started 30 years ago this month. And people think it’s because of the allegations made by Bob Lazar, the wild claims. Actually, it’s another Bob that really started the ball rolling. Bob Stoldal. Robert Stoldal, in my mind, is the most important Nevada journalist since Mark Twain. He was the news director at Channel 8 for about 30 years. He set the standard. He was the gold standard. He was the example for all the other news organizations in town.
George Knapp: When I was first hired here in 1981, Bob Stoldal was already on the Area 51 story. He’d been collecting bits and pieces of information. He had some run-ins with some intelligence agencies because of the reporting he and Ned Day did. So, I thought, if we’re starting out looking back at the beginning of KLAS coverage of Area 51 and the UFO topic, we had to talk to Bob. So we did this interview with him a little bit ago, and he helped trace the genesis of where it all began.
Another interesting note: Stoldal’s father worked at the test site. Bob knew not to ask about his father’s work, and he says they never talked about it.
Stoldal and Knapp discussed the importance of how they approached the story.
Bob Stoldal: I think for the most part we were able to do it correctly, and quite frankly, gave credibility to the whole UFO subject matter … that, here’s a journalist that is using standard traditional journalistic techniques to get to the bottom of the story, and here’s what he’s found.