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Dusting Off the Old Ones
Originally published 1961, W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana

142. Early Montana Radio Stations

We ran into some interesting statistics about radio and television in the Montana Almanac the other day, and we will pass it along to you today. The first major radio station in Montana was station KFBB in Great Falls, established in 1922, with a strength of 250 watts. The power was increased in 1929 to 2,500 watts, and in 1933 to 5,000 watts. The second station in the state operated briefly from the campus of Montana State University, beginning February 13, 1925 under the call letters of KUOM, now used by the campus station at the University of Minnesota. Station KGCX, Sidney, was originally established about 1925 at Vida, Montana, with a power of 7.5 watts. In 1929 its power was increased to 250 watts and the station was moved to Wolf Point. In 1942, the station was moved to Sidney and today has a strength of 5,000 watts. Other early stations are: KGEZ Kalispell, established 1927; KGHL, Billings, established in 1928; KXLF, Butte, established in 1929; and KGVO, Missoula, established 1931. Our own station was established in 1942 under the call letters KRJF and they were changed to KATL in 1954. In 1956 there were 30 AM radio stations in the state. Montana's first televisions, KXLF-TV and KOPR-TV, commenced operations almost simultaneously in Butte in 1953; followed by KOOK-TV in Billings in 1953, KMSO-TV (formerly KGVO-TV) in Missoula in 1954, and KFBB-TV in Great Falls in 1954.

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