KIT, Yakima's first radio station, makes its broadcasting debut on April 5, 1929.

  • By Peter Blecha
  • Posted 5/24/2022
  • Essay 22466
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On April 5, 1929, the Yakima Valley's first radio station, KIT, makes its broadcasting debut. Owned by Seattle and Tacoma radio pioneer Carl E. Haymond, KIT brings news reports and other locally relevant content to Yakima listeners. The station had originated as KFEC in Portland, Oregon, in 1922, when it was owned and operated by the Meier & Frank Company.

The "Meier & Frank Station"

Aaron Meier (1831-1889) was a Bavarian who had immigrated to California during the Gold Rush and then headed to Oregon Territory in 1857. First he opened a mercantile store at 137 Front Street in Portland. Upon Meier's father's death he inherited considerable funds and proceeded to open a much larger store at 136 Front Street. Meier hired two brothers, Emil Frank (1845-1898) and Sigmund Frank (1850-1910), and a year later made Emil a partner in the Meier & Frank business. In 1885 they constructed a building near the riverfront. Three years later Emil left and Sigmund joined on as Meier's partner. In 1898 the store moved into a new five-story building in downtown Portland. In 1913 that building was razed and replaced by a 16-story skyscraper, which upon its completion in 1915 was noted as the largest retail outlet west of the Mississippi.

In 1922 Meier & Frank installed a broadcast studio on the fifth floor and erected an antenna tower on the roof. For the following seven years its station KFEC had a big impact within the community and would come to be popularly known as the "Meier & Frank Station." In 1929, Meier & Frank – now being run by Aaron Meier's youngest son Julius Meier (1874-1937) – decided to get out of the radio business.

North to Yakima

This was about when a radioman from the Seattle-Tacoma area, Carl E. Haymond (1897-1977), expressed his interest and a sales deal was hammered out. On March 18, 1929, the Federal Communications Commission approved transfer of ownership and about four days later Haymond got the station's call-letters changed to KIT. Sensing that the radio market in Portland was too competitive, Haymond scouted around and decided to move KIT to Yakima, which didn't have a station. As Haymond told the Tacoma News Tribune: "Yakima and the central part of the state have no station in their territory now and I am advised over there that they get no programs by radio at all in daytime and only limited reception at night. The Puget Sound and Portland stations are rarely picked up over there" ("KMO to Install ..."). 

Three weeks later, KIT Radio's studio and 100-watt Western Electric transmitter had been settled into a building located on Yakima Avenue, and at 7 p.m. on Friday April 5, 1929, KIT (1370 on the radio dial) made its broadcast debut in Washington. The news of this development was significant enough – mainly because Haymond was well-known for his earlier work at Seattle's KFC and KFOA, and his ownership since 1926 of Tacoma's KMO – to get coverage in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane newspapers. The Spokane Daily Chronicle noted "the dedicatory program promises to be of exceptional merit ... The station will be on the air each day from 6:30 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 12 midnight. Among programs lined up are special features of the Yakima Chamber of Commerce and the Yakima Agricultural Association" ("New Yakima Station ...").

Following KIT's arrival in Yakima additional stations popped up including KIMA, KUTI, and KLOQ. Today [2022] there are at least 20 stations operating in Yakima itself, with about that many more scattered throughout the Yakima Valley. They include everything from the Classic Hits format (KMGW and KARY), to Country music (KDBL and KXDO), to Top-40 (KHHK and KFFM), to Spanish language (KDNA, KZTA, KMNA, KZTR, and KDYK), to sports (KBBQ and KUTI), to Native American (KYNR). Meanwhile KIT carries on as "News Talk KIT 1280 AM" from studios at 4010 Summitview Avenue in Yakima.


"KMO to Install Radio Station in Yakima," Tacoma News Tribune, March 21, 1929, p. 7; "New Yakima Station Makes Bow Tomorrow," Spokane Daily Chronicle, April 4, 1929, p. 12; "Radio News: Radio To Bring Opera 'Firefly' To Fans Tonight," The Seattle Times, April 4, 1929, p. 10; Radio at War -- KMO (Peoria, Illinois: National Radio Personalities, 1942).

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