From a South Hill basement station in the '70s to a set of three major National Public Radio stations broadcasting to 750 communities, SPR has come a long way.
SPR traces its roots to the early 1970s on the South Hill. Make that "in" the South Hill: in the basement of a residence belonging to George and Susie Cole. An electrical pole -- donated quietly by someone with the power company -- stood in the backyard supporting a hoop-shaped antenna for the 10-watt transmitter, the size of a two-drawer file cabinet. From 5 p.m.-1 a.m. each night, radios seven miles around could catch the sounds of classical, jazz, folk, soul, big band, and whatever else a volunteer felt like playing. When the Coles moved in 1974, they put the station in the hands of David Schoengold.
In an effort to expand KPBX, Schoengold first moved the station into the group of eclectic Downtown businesses known as Second City. Then in the latter '70s, the operation went off the air as the Spokane Public Broadcasting Association made its plans for a 'Cadillac' station.
A New Birthday: January 20, 1980
Dozens of people had been waiting for months for something to come out of their radio at 91.1 FM. Despite the delays and red tape, the sound of the new-and-improved KPBX was well worth the wait.
"To be able to turn on my radio and hear classical music with the composer's name, the title of the piece, and the conductor's name correctly pronounced is pleasant to the ear, and the music even more so. The news programs are also excellent," listener Pauline Boury wrote to the editor of the Spokane Chronicle. "This radio station makes Spokane an even more pleasant city in which to live." "I now mow the lawn and jog with a tiny radio and ear phones," Dave Broom, a former board president, told Spokane Magazine.
A Sound Future
Spokane Public Radio began broadcasting from the historic Fire Station No. 3 in time for its 36th Anniversary, January 20, 2016. The new building has doubled working space and tripled SPR's production capacity. The organization will now begin making plans for growth in the news, arts coverage, and local programming.