| The First Stations | Late 40's-60's | 70's and 80's | 90's | KKNX |
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"THE FIRST STATIONS:"
According to the recollections of Jerry G.M. DeBroekert, published in Houglums "Early Day Broadcasting of Lane County", what may have been the first station in the area was a result of the unofficial broadcasting of music recordings in the evening by the Army Air Corps. DeBroekert was an early Amateur Radio Operator in Eugene and describes how between 1919 and 1922 the Army Air Corps had a 10 watt transmitter at the Eugene Airport (18 Th. and Chambers vicinity then) and were known to "broadcast" in the 200-550 meter band in the evenings between 7 and 9. Only a relatively few number of people with shortwave receivers comprised the audience of station "Nine-One" operated by the 91st Air Corps Division.
DeBroekert further recalls that the first "official Station" was licensed by the Department of Commerce in 1920 under the call KDJZ. The owner was Garrett Lewis, a university of Oregon student and studios and transmitter were on Villard Street, between 12th and 13th streets. It consisted of a two-tube station with about 5 watts on 360 meters, approximately 800 KC.
Lewis sold the station equipment about 1922 to Dentist S.T. Donahue who applied for a license of 100 watts on 1090 KC with the studio location of 681 Willamette. It was assigned the call sign KFAT. Garrett Lewis became the stations chief engineer and along with Paul Hoppe, another Amateur Radio Operator rebuilt the KDJZ equipment using much larger tubes to achieve the newly authorized 100 watt power limit.
Reportedly, KFAT was more "amateur" than professional, kept sporadic hours and was apparently operated from the Dentists office more for his pleasure than that of whatever small audience may have been listening. There is some doubt whether the station ever actually reached its authorized limit of 100 watts of power. In the Spring of 1923, the Department of Commerce License expired and was not renewed.
The next group to try their hand was Frank L. Hill of Eugene and Curt G. Phillips of California who had been attending the U of O. They purchased the License and equipment from Portland station KFEC, then licensed to the Mier and Frank Department store and moved it to Eugene. With the assistance of Tommy Thompson-who was later to become a prominent businessman of his own right, including founder of KPIR in the 60s-they assembled the 50 watt station and obtained a license with the call sign of KGEH.
KGEH was located in the Eugene Hotel at 9th and Pearl and transmitted with a multi-wire "Flat-Top" antenna supported by 50 foot poles above the hotel roof. It was on 1500 KC with 50 watts of power. After about a year, the studios moved to the top floor of the Morning Register (one of the two newspapers in Eugene at the time) at the corner of 9th and Oak (9th street was eventually renamed "Broadway"). The antenna stayed on the top of the Hotel about a block away. The next move of the station was in 1928 to 733 Willamette street, above Hills Department Store, in a building owned by Frank Hills father.
With the move, the station also received new call letters...KORE. J. Raleigh Wildman of Springfield was reportedly Eugenes first salaried chief engineer and disc jockey with KEGH-KORE during this period of time. The partnership of Hill and Phillips also owned KIDO, Boise, Idaho, the first full-time commercial station in that market on 1000 KC with 1,000 watts of power.
Somewhere along the way, KORE changed dial position to 1420 KC. In 1930 the only radio station on the air in Eugene was KORE with 100 watts of power at 1420 Kilocycles on the AM dial. KORE shared the dial position with Portland station KXL, who would eventually move to 750 Kilocycles. By the late 30s the Hill-Phillips partnership dissolved and Hill kept KORE in Eugene with Phillips getting KIDO in Boise. Early station personalities included Chief Engineer Wildman, Tom Hall, Program Director Day Foster, Stan Miller, Ted Charles and Rush Hughes.
Hall left KORE to work in Walla Walla, Washington, Foster went to Portland but eventually returned to join Eugene Attorney Iriv Kincaid to co-found KASH, but was killed in an auto accident before he could take an active role in that station. Miller left for KIRO in Seattle, Charles departed for KAST in Astoria, OR. but later returned to run a frozen foods business (King Charles), Hughes left KORE to work for the Mutual Broadcasting Network.
Some of the early programming included live talent show remote from the McDonald Theater, a Man-on-the-street interview with George Herbert, wrestling matches broadcast from the Eugene Armory and remote broadcast of U of O football games from Hayward Field with sportscaster Day Foster.
Violet Hill, Frank Hills wife took an early role in station programming and operations in the 30s and personally selected and purchased every record at the station at that time. She also was responsible for their cataloguing and filing as well as monitoring the station broadcasts for poor musical selection, miss- pronounced words or other problems. According to the memoirs of Ted Charles, she would bring these matters to the attention of the staff with a friendly informal note. The KORE phone number was the single digit "3" according to "Early Day Broadcasting in Lane County"
About 1936 KORE moved from downtown Eugene to a new location in the remodeled facilities of what had been the Eugene Country Club at 2600 Willamette, on the southern edge of the city. Play It Again Sports sits at the approximate location of the studio building and the 175 foot self supporting tower was just to the North about where the Subway Sandwich shop is located in the little shopping plaza on the West side of Willamette Street..
In 1938 Dolph Janes joined the station as a part-time newscaster while still a student at the University of Oregon. Dolph would later leave KORE for a full time Job in Bend at KBND. He was replaced by Duke Young who would later move on to start his own station, KFMY-FM. Dolph returned from Bend, did a stint in the Army and returned to KORE as News Director in 1948.
In 1941, the North America Broadcast Radio Agreement required the frequency change of 802 of the 893 AM stations on the air at that time. KORE was moved up the dial by 30 Kilocycles to 1450. They were also granted an increase in power, 1000 watts daytime and 250 watts night. Station personnel of that era included Production Manager Day Foster, Traffic Manager Marjorie Jackson, Chief Engineer Harold Gander, Van Shannow, Stan Miller and Jack McCarthy. Station Manager in the 40s was Lionel Trommilitz, Laura Plank hosted a womens show on KORE and later at KASH, Bruce Nidever was a staff announcer and Floyd Viken replaced Gander as Chief Engineer.