A Historic Piece of Yakima Broadcasting Rescued
Not believe it or not! 1280 KIT is approaching 100 years of broadcasting here in Yakima starting in 1929. But, did you know that KIT was first in Portland, Oregon before arriving in Yakima and it was on the 1310 on the dial, and moved a couple of more times before landing on 1280 frequency and in those year the advancement of technology has greatly changed. If you have ever researched the history of radio broadcasting. The programs started with live performers. From local, regional and national performers thanks to technology, Networks made the country a little more connected. Families gathering around the radio to listen to their favorite programs and stars. Shows like The Great Gildersleeve · Jack Benny · Dragnet · Gunsmoke · Fibber McGee and Molly; Frank Sinatra, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Hank Williams and Glenn Miller. Imagine all of these performers and more coming into your home, cars and businesses.
1280 KIT history is rich, a lot of well respected broadcasters and journalists have graced the microphones at 1280 KIT. We have kept you informed and entertained. You turned and tuned us in when St. Helen erupted, presidents being elected and passed. When the SuperSonics and Seahawks won Championships. Time and Technology still keeps marching on. Once again things are changing to improve our service to you. KIT has moved its tower and transmitter from its West Washington Ave. location out to the East Valley area. What does that mean? Better quality and coverage with KIT.
Now, when I heard the news about the move, our engineer at the time ask for some help to clean out the build of junk. I was very excited about going into the building to see what in there. I have been in radio for many years. ( Okay, I started with playing records from 331/2, 45s, to CDs to full blown computers. If you know what a slicing box is. Well, you know.) I walked into to the building to be greeted by something I haven't seen in a couple of decades. It was the old KIT transmitter or what was left of the transmitter. The outer shell of an Gates AM Tubed heart of radio. Granted the transmitter's working parts are gone. I looked into the windows on the door to see what was there. I took a step back and opened the doors and walked into a real part of Yakima broadcast history. I asked what is going to happen to it when the other transmitter site is ready for KIT? The engineer say he didn't know. But he said something about the building might be torn down and the tower would be coming down.
About a week or two went by, I get a call from the other engineer that is also working on the new KIT project and tells me that things have been moved upped and he is going to get the building ready. It sad that the transmitter will be basically destroyed. I had this sick feeling to my stomach about this piece of Yakima broadcast history will up as a dusty memory. But, It needs to be rescued, preserved and is in need of a permanent place to call home. I made a quick call to a friend to see if he might know of a storage place or someone with a space to save the transmitter shell. After a few hours, things started to fall into place. On the first weekend of single digit weather. Dan Schilperoort of Columbia Platue/Roof Max, his friend Chuck and I work 4 hours disassembling the outer shell of 1280 KIT radio transmitter that has powered the voice of the Yakima area for nearly 70 plus years. Its Rescued! Here is what it looks like.
Rescuing the Historic KIT-AM Transmitter
Gallery Credit: Jack Balzer