Norman Carlyle Tarbox started his broadcasting career as a radio operator for the U.S. Navy. After the Navy, he got a job for Western Airlines working as a civilian radio operator.
He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in 1955 in speech. While working on his undergraduate degree he worked for the local ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City as a production/studio floor manager. Norman went on to get a masters degree in radio and television from Syracuse University and a PHD from the University of Utah.
He took a job at Brigham Young University in August 1960 as an assistant director of radio and television. BYU entrusted Tarbox and colleague Tad Williams with the task of bringing along developmental activity to acquire channel 11, KBYU-TV. While working to establish channel 11 on the air, Norman taught classes in the speech department as well as produced several shows from BYU’s already existing production facility.
In November 1965 negotiations with the Federal Communications Commission were complete and Channel 11 went on the air as a non-commercial station owned and operated by Brigham Young University.
In that same year, the department of broadcast services was formed. Norman’s vision for channel 11 was to see a family station that also fulfilled the mission of the LDS church to proclaim the gospel to the world.
Tarbox received his Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Utah in 1979. He wrote his thesis on "The History of Public Television in the State of Utah." The Special Collections Department at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah houses the Norman Carlyle Tarbox papers (1950-1970s), which consists of research files on the history of educational television in Utah. The Norman Carlyle Tarbox papers include reports, correspondence, Federal Communications Commission papers, minutes, notes, legal papers, news articles, and other materials he used in preparing his thesis.