Ira Davis (Radio and Television producer)


Ira Davis (Radio and Television producer)

Davis, Ira

Ira Davis (Ira Efren Gonzalez Davis) was a radio and television producer, announcer, and executive. He was born in Rosales, Pangasinan on 1 February 1916. He died in California, USA on 9 January 2000. He was the son of Victorina Gonzalez of Pangasinan and Ira Lee Davis of Missouri, USA. He was married to Wilhelmine Baumann, who briefly hosted postwar radio in French. They had eight children, including radio announcer and advertising executive Roger Davis. His daughter-in-law Betsy Enriquez was a radio-television journalist while grandson Russ Davis is a radio announcer. He attended Bordner High School in Manila in the early 1930s.


One of the pioneers in Philippine radio, Davis began his broadcasting career in the early 1930s at KZIB by emceeing musical-variety shows while playing the ukulele. He was among the first Filipinos, along with Koko Trinidad, Vero Perfecto, and Norman Reyes, to be given announcing and newscasting jobs on the air in the mid-1930s, which until then were dominated by Americans in Manila. He also operated a radio repair shop in Manila before World War II. When war broke out, he and a few hundred Filipino-American mestizos were incarcerated in early 1942 at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp, along with 3,000 Americans and other Allied nationals. After seven months, the Japanese freed the mestizos on the assumption that they were American only on paper but Filipino in spirit. However, when word got around that they were to be picked up again, Davis took his young family to Guimba, Nueva Ecija. While waiting out the war, he stole back into Manila a few times to procure radio parts for the guerrillas operating in Nueva Ecija.


After the war, Davis joined Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) where he produced and hosted several programs on KZRH and its sister station KZPI, including the hit variety-game show Purico Jamboree, which he coproduced and co-hosted with Conde Ubaldo. In 1956, with Davis as producer, the show was replaced by Tawag ng Tanghalan (Call of the Stage), an amateur singing contest that first aired in 1950 on DZBB. Another memorable show that Davis produced and hosted was Radio Schoolhouse, a quiz show for grade school students. He likewise produced all the MBC programs sponsored by the Philippine Manufacturing Company (today Procter and Gamble).


Davis studied the radio audience in the 1950s when there were no sophisticated rating surveys yet, by poring over thousands of letters weekly sent by fans to MBC stations. His notes were then routed to management, which led to the production of successful and long-running shows on MBC stations. Davis thus rose to become general manager of MBC, until it expanded into television Channel 11 in 1962. Just before President Marcos declared martial law in 1972, Davis retired from broadcasting.


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