Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, March 14 2014 at 3:39 PM, Updated: Mon, March 17 2014 at 1:24 AM
Lakeview, Ore. -- A shift to digital projection is taking a toll on small town movie theaters...including a classic theater in Lakeview that's facing closure.
Susan and Kevin Samples have owned Lakeview's Alger Theater since the mid-80's.
Susan says presenting movies like 'Toy Story' was just as much fun as watching them...
"I would just sit there and I could listen to, I knew when a part was coming up because the whole theater would just bust up laughing. They loved that movie, and to me, it just made me feel great."
But the laughter has ended, and the theater is now silent.
The reason? Samples explains that new releases aren't always available anymore in 35 millimeter...
"And in order for us to upgrade to digital, it would probably be about 70 thousand dollars."
And the box office isn't generating that kind of profit.
The 340 seat Alger Theater was built in 1940.
Samples is concerned that if the Alger closes, a little bit of local history will be lost...
"There aren't very many 1940 movie theaters around any more. And if you start changing it, you're never going to get it back."
While DVD's are convenient, Samples says that some movies just have to be seen on a big screen...
"And I also think having an audience with you to laugh or cry changes the whole attitude of a movie, the whole atmosphere of a movie."
The Alger isn't the only small theater facing closure...but that doesn't make things any easier for Samples...
"After 27 years, it's very difficult."
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.