Growing KPBX

Back to History of Spokane Public Radio

George and Susan Cole moved in 1974, but sold their home on condition that the next owner would continue the little radio station they'd created. David Schoengold fit the bill. He had moved to Spokane from New York and stumbled across this "fuzzy station asking for volunteers." Not only did Schoengold continue the station, he expanded it from evenings to 24 hours a day.

"Imagine stumbling into the bathroom in the middle of the night, with people coming and going at all hours," he laughed as he related the story. "During Expo, we started doing live remotes. We also invited several of the artists to come on the air. Imagine Hari Krishnas, international groups all hanging out in the living room waiting to go on the air."

When interviewed in 2000, Schoengold rattled off people who put together programs in the basement - Charlie Schlessinger (Jazz with Chas) and his wife; Larry Weizer (of Chutzpah, the Klezmer orchestra); Mike Thompson's soul program.

"Anytime we had an open slot, [Thompson] would be down there, playing a request show until 3 or 4 in the morning. I'd go to sleep listening to his foot tapping and the phones ringing to request something," Schoengold remembered. 

And KPBX began getting news from National Public Radio, itself a young news organization. The news magazine All Things Considered was mailed to Schoengold on large reel-to-reel tapes. "We'd go to the post office on the South Hill to get the tapes and then we'd air them."

Other slots were filled by news and information programs. The Lilac Association of the Blind produced "Sight and Sound." Several women's groups held "poignant and pointed discussions" about the ERA and feminist movement. Another group, Longhorn Network, sent programs. "During dinnertime or when someone didn't have a shift, we'd put on Longhorn Network or a long classical piece," Schoengold remembered.

In the mid-1970s, Schoengold told The Falls newspaper that the earliest incarnation of KPBX was an "open learning experience" of jazz, classical music, and almost anything else that someone wanted to put on the air. If someone came to Schoengold with a request for a certain type of music or topic, he would usually answer, "Great idea. Why don't you come up to the station and do a program about it?"

That still happens at Spokane Public Radio today. Anyone interested in doing a radio program can talk with Program Director Verne Windham about demonstrating a program they would like to put together.

Back to Coles and David Schoengold | Next in History of SPR: Moving Downtown