Our Photo Gallery

Every month or so, we at The History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation will offer
a fascinating array of historical photos and information on this page. Some will have a common theme – such as this one;
others will simply be miscellaneous photos from the thousands we have collected over the years. 

This first photo gallery looks back at two legendary, affiliated Boise radio stations which —
incredibly — spawned a family tree of SIX other stations:

KATN-AM, which later became KBRJ (“Country 95”), then KKIC, KJHY (“K-Joy”), KNJY, and is now KMHR (“La Mejor”) … plus KBBK-FM (“Magic 92”), which later became KIYS (“Kiss FM”)

Ralph Frazer

On October 12, 1960, the FCC granted Boise businessman Ralph Frazer and his Treasure Valley Broadcasting Company permission to start an AM radio station at 1010 kilohertz (1010 on the dial). Construction of the station began shortly thereafter on six acres Ralph owned in a large rural area along what was then Highway 30, three miles west of the Boise city limits. Today, the area is well within city limits … and what used to be rural Highway 30 is now heavily-trafficked Fairview Avenue.

Here’s a rare photo of the building under construction. Always the innovator and marketer, Ralph designed the building to have a unique feature -- an on-air studio on the roof, in what resembled an airport control tower, where the deejays could be seen my people driving by. (That’s the station’s transmission tower in the background.)

Building under construction
Newspaper article dated March 26, 1961

Of course, local newspapers were quick to cover the debut of Boise’s first full-time country-and-western station, KATN (known as “Kay-Ten,” for its 1010 AM dial position) and its reportedly “first and only control tower studio in America.” The station signed on the air April 8, 1961.

Driving along Highway 30, you couldn’t miss it! As you can see, the building’s entire west wall was a billboard or sorts. KATN also had two marked station vehicles that were often seen around town; it later had a panel truck -- today, we’d call it a cargo van -- that it used at live remotes. (Note the old wooden wagon behind the station.)

Station; old wooden wagon in the background
Live remote from store

Ralph was very civic-minded; he was elected to the Boise City Council, was president of the Greater Boise Auditorium District, and served sixteen years with the Boise Chamber of Commerce. His radio station was also very involved in the community; it offered listeners what soon became a popular political call-in show, had many in-studio guests, and held countless live remotes promoting retailers in the area, such as the one pictured here. That’s young KATN announcer Paul Rider standing next to the aproned grocery store manager … and Ken Bort, the station’s program director and afternoon host, at the board. You can barely see Ralph; he’s the one wearing the hat.

On July 14, 1966, the FCC granted Ralph a construction permit to add KATN-FM. However, KATN-FM never signed on the air; Ralph simply used those call letters to apply for the station. He changed the call letters from KATN-FM to KBBK on June 1, 1968. KBBK debuted at 92.3 FM on August 1, 1968. Also in 1968, the FCC gave Ralph approval to move KATN from 1010 AM to 950 AM, giving him the ability to then broadcast in 5,000 watts (versus only 1,000) and to be on the air from 6 a.m. until sunset -- which meant, during the summer months, KATN could remain on the air longer. Also, to stay up with then-current music trends, Ralph changed the station’s twangy country-and-western music format into a more “cosmopolitan” country crossover format.

Statesman article dated July 21, 1966
Smiling DJ in tower studio

At one point, both stations broadcasted live from the “tower.” Here’s an unidentified station deejay (if you know who he is, tell us) spinning records. We believe this picture was taken in the late-’60s. The curtains behind the announcer helped to deflect some of the intense morning sunlight that came through the glass on the east side of the control room. It was the same situation on the west side, with the evening sun.

Ralph later sold the two stations to the Magicland Broadcasting Company -- according to FCC documents, the sale was granted on October 13, 1972 -- and the call letters were changed from KATN to KBRJ, effective October 18th. The new call letters designated the first-name initials of the three new owners Burt Oliphant (who, at that time, also owned a radio station in Dillon, Montana) and Boise-based brothers Rex and Jack Jensen. The sale became official on December 6, 1972. The two stations’ live broadcasts eventually disappeared, as both began offering listeners pre-recorded automated music; KBRJ with its “crossover” country and KBBK with Top 40 rock. The old KATN “billboard” on the building’s west wall also disappeared, of course. We assume it was simply covered with paint.

KBRJ studios
KBBK studios

If you look closely at this photo (circa early- to mid-’70s) -- and through the station’s front window -- you can see part of KBBK’s big automation system in the lobby, along the far wall. Note the real-life wagon wheels Ralph had embedded in the sidewalk in front the station, likely to emphasize KATN’s then country-and-western music format. We wonder if they came from that old wagon we saw behind the station in the earlier photo.

With both stations automated, the “airport control tower” studio was then used strictly as a production room -- where commercials were recorded and dubbed to play on the air. Back then, as you can tell by looking through the tower window, the area was still large, open fields. Today, the building is surrounded by businesses; there are office/retails complexes behind it and a major car dealership across the street.

Control board in tower studio; fields across the street
Don Kelly

In late 1977, former cross-town KFXD disc jockey “Shotgun” Don Kelly was hired as KBBK’s new program director, after station owners set in motion plans to switch from a computerized automation system playing “canned” music to a much-more-exciting live deejay format. Kelly hired Casey Keating from KIDO, Bob Lee and Bart Driscoll from KFXD, and Jack Armstrong from KOZE, among others. The station went live on Monday, January 2, 1978 and became known as “Magic 92.”

Here’s deejay John O’Brien behind the wheel of the KBBK station vehicle, a Ford Pinto Wagon, a few years later. The vehicle was often used at live remotes, store grand openings, and what not. The logo’s lettering was designed to resemble neon light tubes.

John O’Brien in KBBK car
Five deejays

Here are some of the then-very young “Magic 92” deejays (from left to right): Scott Murphy, “Jammin’” Jeff Allen, Bob Anthony (Hm. We don’t know why he was wearing a T-shirt from another station; maybe his “Magic 92” T-shirt was in the laundry), “The Emperor” Larry Lomax, and John O’Brien. You may recognize Bob Anthony; he went on to become a weather forecaster, eventually working at all the Boise-area commercial TV stations.

KBRJ Sales Manager Steve Sumner later bought the AM station -- the sale was effective August 16, 1978 -- and moved it to a retail complex near the intersection of Cole and Franklin Roads in west Boise. He eventually switched from the country music format to full-time Christian programming, and changed its call letters to KJOY.

Former Cole Road studios

In September, 1979, KBBK moved from its longtime Fairview Avenue location to what used to be a church at 1114 N. Meridian Road in Meridian. The on-air studio, the newsroom, the production room, and sales offices were all in the basement; the lobby and administrative offices were “upstairs” on the ground floor. In 1984, KBBK was sold, changed its call letters to KIYS-FM, and became known as “Kiss FM.” The new owners moved the station to Boise. Ironically, the building is now a church again.

Sadly, the iconic “airport control tower” of KBBK’s former Fairview Avenue studio was torn down. The building was significantly remodeled and is now home to several retail outlets.

CBD store
Clickable Image

Click on what was affectionately nicknamed KBBK’s “yin-and-yang” logo … and listen to a vintage aircheck from the late-’70s, when KBBK was broadcasting live from “the airport control tower” on Fairview and known all over the Treasure Valley as “The FM, Magic 92.” You’ll hear morning man Casey Keating (who was on the air from 6 a.m.-10 a.m.), “Bad” Bob Lee (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), Don Kelly, (2 p.m.-6 p.m.), and the late, great night jock “Big Jack” Armstrong (6 p.m.-10 p.m.).