On April 5, 1929, the first Yakima Valley radio station, KIT, made its broadcast debut. Owned by Seattle and Tacoma radio pioneer Carl E. Haymond, KIT brings news stories and other locally relevant content to Yakima listeners. The station 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 immigrated to California during the Gold Rush and then headed to Oregon Territory in 1857. He first opened a trading store at 137 Front Street in Portland. When Meier’s father died, he inherited considerable funds and opened 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 built a building near the edge of the river. Three years later Emil left and Sigmund joined Meier as a partner. In 1898, the store moved to a new five-story building in downtown Portland. In 1913 this building was razed and replaced with a 16-story skyscraper which, after its completion in 1915, was noted as the tallest outlet west of the Mississippi.
In 1922, Meier & Frank set up a broadcast studio on the fifth floor and erected an antenna tower on the roof. For the next seven years, his station KFEC had a great impact within the community and would become popularly known as “Meier & Frank Station”. In 1929, Meier & Frank – now run by Aaron Meier’s youngest son, Julius Meier (1874-1937) – decided to withdraw from the radio business.
North to Yakima
It was around this time that a Seattle-Tacoma area radioman, Carl E. Haymond (1897-1977), expressed interest and an agreement to sell was made. On March 18, 1929, the Federal Communications Commission approved the transfer of ownership and about four days later Haymond had the station’s call letters changed to KIT. Feeling that the radio market in Portland was too competitive, Haymond scouted around and decided to move KIT to Yakima, which had no station. As Haymond told the Tacoma Newsstand“Yakima and the central part of the state no longer have a station in their territory and I am informed there that they receive no radio programs during the day and only limited reception at night. Puget Sound and Portland stations are rarely picked up up there” (“KMO to install…”).
Three weeks later, KIT Radio’s studio and 100-watt Western Electric transmitter had been installed in a building on Yakima Avenue, and at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 5, 1929, KIT (1370 on the radio dial) made his beginnings in Washington. . 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 1926 ownership of Tacoma’s KMO—to garner coverage in newspapers in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane. The Spokane Daily Chronicle noted “The dedication program promises to be of exceptional merit…The station will be on the air daily from 6:30 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to midnight. Among the programs lined up are specials from the Yakima Chamber of Commerce and the Yakima Agricultural Association” (“New Yakima Station…”).
After KIT arrived in Yakima, additional stations appeared, including KIMA, KUTI, and KLOQ. Today  there are at least 20 stations operating in Yakima itself, with about as many more scattered throughout the Yakima Valley. They include everything from Classic Hits (KMGW and KARY), Country Music (KDBL and KXDO), Top-40 (KHHK and KFFM), Spanish Language (KDNA, KZTA, KMNA, KZTR and KDYK), to sports (KBBQ and KUTI), to Amerindians (KYNR). Meanwhile, KIT continues as “News Talk KIT 1280 AM” from studios at 4010 Summitview Avenue in Yakima.
“KMO will set up a radio station in Yakima,” Tacoma Newsstand, March 21, 1929, p. seven; “The New Yakima Station Makes the Bow Tomorrow” Spokane Daily Chronicle, April 4, 1929, p. 12; “Radio News: Radio will present the opera ‘Firefly’ to fans tonight,” Seattle weather, April 4, 1929, p. ten; Radio at war — KMO (Peoria, Illinois: National Radio Personalities, 1942).
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