High Expectations for New Radio Station
Based on the amount of self-promotion in the Spokane Daily Chronicle, it is very apparent that the paper had high expectations for its new radio station. For just a few months in 1922, Chronicle Radio, using the call letters KOE, made quite the splash in Spokane and then disappeared without notice. KOE received its license to broadcast on 12 April 1922 and after some time to install and test the set-up, the station finally started regularly scheduled broadcasts in late June 1922. A preparatory program produced by Chronicle Radio was broadcast on via KFZ on mid-May 1922.
The Chronicle announced on 6 May 1922 that a "federal broadcasting license has been secured by the Chronicle and a 10-watt radio broadcasting set has been purchased for installation in the tower of the Review Building at Monroe and Riverside."
Photo of the Review Building Tower - Circa-1905. The building and tower still stand today. (Courtesy of the City-County of Spokane Historic Preservation Office.)
The precise date that KOE went off the air is not known, but it was clearly sometime before the end of the year. Sporadic references to programs broadcast by KOE appeared in the Chronicle through at least mid-December 1922.
(NOTE: The Spokane Daily Chronicle and the Spokesman-Review newspapers were owned by the Cowles family and before 1921 both operated out of the same building, known as the Review Building. In 1921, the Chronicle moved to its own building just to the south in the same block as the Review Building. That is how the Chronicle had access to the Review Building Tower, an obvious place for its antenna and transmitter.)
Radio Broadcasting Department Established
A radio broadcasting department was to be established by the newspaper "within the next few weeks for the presentation of musical and entertainment programs throughout the Inland Empire." Mr. Robert Thomas "Ruby" ("R. T.") Carr of the Pacific Telegraph Institute signed the station's license application and was designated as the operator of the station.
Programs of music, readings and addresses were to be broadcasted under the direction of the Chronicle. Mr. Carr stated that "The Chronicle broadcasting equipment will give good service throughout the Inland Empire. It is of the latest broadcasting type and will give satisfactory results within the 100-mile radius about Spokane."
(Photo from Spokane Daily Chronicle, 24 June 1922)
Preparatory Broadcast on KFZ - 12 May 1922
Preparatory to the opening of its own station in the tower of the Review Building, Chronicle Radio produced its first radio concert which was broadcast on the Doerr-Mitchell broadcast station KFZ at Ninth and Walnut on 12 May 1922. The broadcast started at 8 PM and went until 9 PM.
The program consisted of "An Indian Love Song" and several popular tunes sung live by Miss Ruth Sampson. After Miss Sampson, Mr. Emil Eyer sung several other popular numbers. Reports from all over Spokane stated that the concert was clearly heard.
First Scheduled KOE Broadcast - 20 June 1922
The first scheduled broadcast of KOE from the Review building was 20 June 1922 at 8:30 PM. The program consisted with "a blare of jazz music" by the Phil Sheridan jazz orchestra from the Florence Hotel in Missoula, Montana, which was playing at the time at Whitehead's in the absence of the local orchestra. Miss Lois Lingenfelter, a mezzo soprano presented several vocal selections. The broadcast concluded at 9:30 PM.
Distant reception of radio stations was important to station operators in those days. The first "distant" reception of KOE came from an auto tourist and family from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who heard KOE in a tourist camp in Pendleton, Oregon in late June 1922.
First Known Request Line in Spokane
KOE followed up with a request program on 22 June 1922. As far as can be determined, this is the first request program for a radio station in Spokane. Listeners were asked to telephone their requests to Main 5665-K, while the station was on the air. A request program became a regular feature on KOE.
Beginning in late June, KOE broadcast a regular schedule between 8:30 and 9:30 PM six days per week, except Sunday. Keeping with common practice of more than one stations station time on the same wavelength, KOE shared the wavelength of 360 meters (833 kHz) with Spokane's other station at the time, KFZ. KFZ operated from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM.
2 New Radio Columns to Appear in Chronicle
On 24 June 1922, the Chronicle announced that there would be two new daily columns in the newspaper dealing with radios. One would be for "questions and answers, and the other would be called "Radio Simply Explained." R. T. Carr of the Pacific Telegraph Institute was to be in charge of the questions and answers column and Mr. E. H. Lewis in New York was to write "Radio Simply Explained" on a syndicated basis.
Mr. Carr noted that questions could be sent to the radio department at the Chronicle by mail. Additionally, listeners could also use the station's request line at Main 5665K between 8 PM and 9:30 PM when the station was on the air to ask their questions. The answers to the questions would appear in the next day's edition of the newspaper. Carr noted that "Many magazines are conducting question and answer departments, but more or less delay is involved as most are weeklies or monthlies. Through the Chronicle we will be able to answer questions the day after they are received and will give attention to local problems, which would not interest magazines."
Ground-Breaking Programs Aired on Chronicle
In addition to playing the usual radio concerts and playing phonograph records, Chronicle Radio aired some interesting types of programming. On 29 June 1922, the station aired "College Night" in which students from Washington State College and Whitman College produced a program which consisted of music and comedy.
The station regularly broadcast programs which consisted of jazz music and classical music. At least one time, the station broadcast a program which featured fox trot music. Chronicle Radio also occasionally featured a local group called the Arab Quartet which perform both classical and popular music.
Big Plans for the Fourth of July
Chronicle Radio KOE aimed to be a big player in Spokane's 1922 Fourth of July celebration. A special program featuring patriotic music was aired from 7:00 AM to 7:30 AM, which featured a talk entitled "America's Supremacy" delivered by Dr. Morgan Chambers, pastor of the Central Methodist Church. Following "Reveille" played by Bugler Coleman from Fort George Wright, the program opened with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. To complete the program, several patriotic songs were played. That evening the patriotic theme continued on KOE from 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM and then again from 8:30 PM to 9:00 PM. (KFZ broadcast from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM.)
In Spokane, KOE technicians set up loudspeakers on the roof of the Review building so that people in the streets surrounding the building could listen to the proceedings. Also, residents in towns near Spokane gathered in their communities to hear KOE's Fourth of July broadcast. In Colfax, residents gathered in the Danceland open air pavilion and listened to the proceedings in Spokane over loudspeakers. Boys at the YMCA Camp at Fan Lake were also able to listen to the program through the use of a receiver and an amplifier system.
Station Set up "Radio Concerts"
In the early days of radio, people would gather in public locations such as dance halls, churches, and even in open air locations to hear radio concerts presented by radio stations. This was the only way that many people could listen to radio at the same time because radios at the time were limited to radio fans or hobbyists. At these concerts, someone would set up a radio receiver to pick up a station, usually local, and connect the audio to loudspeakers. Several such concerts were set up by KOE.
In late August 1922, Emil V. Olson set up a special radio concertfor KOE. It was billed as the first public demonstration of the new radio frequency receiving set. It was held on the lawn of P. M. Crawford at 611 East 31st Avenue under the auspices of the Manito Methodist Church.
Elaborate Program for 1922 Spokane Interstate Fair
(Map from Spokane Daily Chronicle, 31 August 1922)
The Chronicle prepared an elaborate program for the Spokane Interstate Fair in early September 1922. It was billed as "the most extensive program of entertainment ever presented in Spokane." Chronicle Radio KOE was scheduled to broadcast 6 hours per day for six days. This was a momumental effort considering that most stations of that era only broadcast one or two hours per day.
KOE's afternoon program began at 1:45 PM and ending at 5:00 PM. The program consisted mostly of live piano music and phonograph records played on a Victrola. The records were provided by Murgittrayd's Victrola Shop. Special announcements were broadcast at 10 minute intervals.
In the evening, between 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM, KOE introduced entertainers who gave their first concerts over the air. KOE stood by from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM while the other Spokane station, KFZ took to the air. At 8:30 PM, KOE resumed introducing more artists and playing phonograph records until 9:30 PM.
A total of six public receiving stations were set up on the fairgrounds. KOE's main receiving station was located in the Federal Extension Service Tent. Other KOE receiving stations were located in the Fairground's Main Building, the Boy's and Girl's Club headquarters, and at the Boy Scout camp inside the racetrack oval. The fair set up its own receiving station at the midday display booths near the grandstand and radio station KFZ set up a station in the Fairground's Industrial Building.
At each location, loudspeakers were set up so that fairgoers could listen to the stations when the stations were broadcasting. Special operators were on duty to adjust the equipment and to answer questions posed by fairgoers "to whom the radio principle was a mystery."
Demise of KOE
According to Department of Commerce records, KOE's license was deleted on 7 October 1922. However, KOE continued to broadcast through at least 8 December 1922. There is clear evidence that indicates KOE stopped using the Review Building facilities and worked out an arrangement to jointly use KFZ's facility on West 1514 Avenue.
On 27 October, the Chronicle announced that a "Mock Marriage over Radiotelephone" was to be features on KOE and that the wedding officiator would be "stationed at W. 1514 Ninth Avenue" and that "Miss Frances Smith and Harry Watford, both of Spokane, (would) impersonate bride and groom at the Pacfic Telegraph School, N. 119 Post Street" at 8:15 PM on the occasion of a Halloween Party arranged by the school.
On 7 November, KOE stood by in order to allow listeners in Spokane an opportunity to hear the Los Angeles Times hold an open house for its new Class B radio station.
The last known recorded broadcast of KOE was in early December. The Chronicle reported that I. H. Hubbard of Oswego, New York heard KOE on 8 December according to a card received from him.
Cowles Family Connection
The Spokane Chronicle was owned by the Cowles Family. The Cowles family got back into broadcasting in 1946 when they bought KHQ-AM from Louis Wasmer. As of the time of this writing, the Cowles Family owned KHQ-TV.
Thanks to fairly extensive coverage by the Chronicle about its radio station and to the broadcast license records kept by the National Archives, it has been fairly easy to piece together the brief history of this station. Even though the station was on the air for a short time, it presented some rather groundbreaking programming and some interesting innovations for the time which were used by broadcasters at later dates. Perhaps the station was ahead of its time.
About R. T. Carr
Mr. R. T. (Robert Thomas) Carr was born on 11 December 1895 and passed away on 23 August 1980. Carr served in World War I as a radio operator in the Navy. After being discharged he opened the Pacific Telegraph Institute, a school that taught radio theory and telegraphy to young men. After his experience with KOE, he ended up in control of radio station KFZ when moved that station from the South Hill to the Pacific Telegraph Institute from where it transmitted for a few months. After KFZ left the air in late 1923, Carr's radio career was essentially through and in 1928 he went on to open a hardware store under the name of R. T. Sales Company. He also founded a company called the Spokane Welders Supply Company. In 1947, he retired from the sales business and spent his time as a property owner and manager. The legacy of his company still survives in Spokane at 919 West 1st Avenue under the name of Carr Electrical Company. Carr remained active in various veterans groups and in local fraternal organizations including the Masons and El Katif Shrine until his passing away in 1980.
If anyone has any information about KOE which is not included here please let me know. My email address is bharms at !radiotowers.info (remove the "!" character).
For images of the station's first license, see the photo gallery below. For information about the station's transmitting plant, antenna, and other technical aspects of the station click here.
Compiled and Edited by Bill Harms - updated on 18 July 2009
- A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting; compiled by Jeff Miller last revision: Dec. 24, 1997; last accessed at http://www.demajo.net/radio/timeline.htm on 30 June 2005.
- Arab Quartet to Sing Monday at Chronicle Radio Station. Spokane Daily Chronicle. 28 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- Auto Tourist Gets KOE." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 27 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Classical Numbers Will be Broadcast." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 1 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Chronicle Radio Concert." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 10 May 1922 Spokane, Washington..
- "Chronicle Radio Station Will Broadcast Tonight." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 20 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Chronicle Radio to Give "Request Program" Tonight." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 22 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Colfax to "Listen in" on KOE Radio Program." 29 June 1922. Spokane Daily Chronicle.
- Commercial and Government Radio Stations, 30 June 1922, Pages 73-78 Department of Commerce, Washington, DC
- "Don't Have to Own Set to Listen in on Radio." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 4 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "First Radio Program By Chronicle Tonight." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 12 May 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Flash - Chronicle Music By Radio." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 11 May 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Fox Trot Program to be Broadcast." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 5 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Have "College Night" for Radio Tomorrow." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 28 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Install Radio for Chronicle." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 6 May 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Jazz Music Tonight on Radio Program." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 30 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "KOE is Heard in New Jersey." Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. 22 November 1922.
- "KOE is Heard on Lake Ontario." Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. 13 December 1922.
- KOE License Record, Description of Apparatus, and Schedule of Station and Apparatus. 12 April 1922. Commission of Navigation, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC. Copied from the National Archives, RG Number 173.
- KOE License Record, Description of Apparatus, and Schedule of Station and Apparatus. 7 July 1922. Commission of Navigation, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC. Copied from the National Archives, RG Number 173.
- "Los Angeles Heard Plainly in Spokane." Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. 8 November 1922.
- "Mock Marriage over Radiotelephone." Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. 27 October 1922.
- "More than Two Hundred Listen to Demonstration of New Set." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 23 August 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Radio Orchestra and Vocal Music." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 6 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Radio Concert Heard Plainly." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 13 May 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Radio Program Every Evening." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 26 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- Radio Service Bulletin, 1 May 1922, #61, Pages 19-22 Department of Commerce, Washington, DC.
- "Six Hours of Radio Every Day; Let Everyone Listen in at Fair." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 31 August 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Spokane to Celebrate." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 3 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- "Two New Radio Departments Will Be Run By Chronicle." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 24 June 1922. Spokane, Washington.
- Thomas H. White. "United States Pioneer Broadcast Service Stations: Actions Through June, 1922. Information updated 1 January 2009. http://earlyradiohistory.us/pion622l.htm Last accessed 4 July 2009.
- "Will Be Heard Tomorrow in Spokane's First "Radio Fourth" Program." Spokane Daily Chronicle. 3 July 1922. Spokane, Washington.
Copies of KOE's first license and associated documents copied from the Department of Commerce files at the National Archives.
This the cover page for the license. It is not dated and does not have the station's callsign on it. It does have the stations owner, the Spokane Chronicle on it. (National Archives)
Applicant's Description of Apparatus. This is the station's application for license. It includes a recommendation by the radio district supervisor for a provisional license. (National Archives)
Schedule of Station and Apparatus. This was filled out by the Department of Commerce and is the document that provides the license for the station to operate. The station's callsign appears here. (National Archives)