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Minot's First Radio Station

Radio broadcasting captured the imagination of Americans in the decade after the founding of first radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh in November, 1920. In North Dakota, the first radio station was started in 1922 by visionary Earl Reineke, who established WDAY in Fargo.

In the decade of the “Roaring Twenties,” radio quickly became a major national industry. People just had to buy newfangled radio sets, called receivers, and the total numbers of radio sales increased from $60 million in 1922 to $430 million in 1925, and reaching over $840 million in 1929. Through the “wizardry of radio,” people could hear the “best of music, lectures, public addresses and sports” while sitting comfortably in their own homes.

Earl Reineke, North Dakota’s radio entrepreneur, expanded his reach by establishing a second radio station in Minot. It was on this date in 1929 that the Minot Daily News published a story about the dedication of KLPM, as the new station was officially “on the air.”

KLPM’s first broadcast was a marathon program, six hours long, featuring classical and popular music, along with speeches by local dignitaries. Station employees introduced themselves, beginning with Earl. Then came his father, C.H. Reineke, as station-manager; followed the technical engineer, chief announcer, and the program director.

Speechifying included talks by Minot’s mayor and the president of Minot Teachers College. Musical highlights came from Miss Violet Cloone with her “modern piano entertainment,” and songs from “Bill Thomas and his Rhythm Kings.”

The public learned about KLPM through numerous newspaper articles the week prior to its first broadcast. The station’s call letters, KLPM, had meaning. The “K” came from the “federal radio commission” because it was west of the Mississippi River, with “W” reserved for stations east of the Mississippi. “LP” represented the Leland-Parker Hotel, where the studio was located; and “M” stood for Minot.

KLPM’s transmitter was only 100-watts, but the station touted “Crystal-Controlled” technology to achieve 100-percent modulation. The top-notch microphone was extremely-sensitive, able to pick up whispers. If the announcer had to cough, sneeze or snort, a switch was available to momentarily cut the microphone. All this new technology allowed listeners to tune in daily for music, humor, talk, and information. All-in-all, it was a marvelous and ecstatic time, when KLPM-Radio came to Minot in 1929.

Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSUM History Department.

Sources:

“Dedication of KLPM Proves Gala Event,” Minot Daily News, October 29, 1929, p. 2.

“KLPM to Give Initial Program This Evening,” Minot Daily News, October 28, 1929, p. 1.

“Mike Quick to Pick up Studio Sounds,” Minot Daily News, October 26, 1929, p. 12.

“Minot Station Call Letters Have Meaning,” Minot Daily News, October

 26, 1929, p. 9.

“C.K. Christenson of Minot Installs KLPM Equipment,” Minot Daily News, October 26, 1929, p. 11.

“KLPM Station Family,” Minot Daily News, October 26, 1929, p. 10.

“Puzzle of Call Letters Can Be Partly Solved,” Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1931, p. 17.

Albert Apple, “Why the Crowd Gathered,” Bismarck Tribune, October 18, 1924, p. 6.

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