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Oklahomyths: The Why of WKY

Fact-checking a persistent Oklahoma myth



Jaime Quintero – a.k.a. “El Internacional” – is the noon-4p.m. weekday host at Oklahoma’s oldest radio station, WKY.

 


THE CLAIM: WKY was the first radio station west of the Mississippi River.

THE SOURCE: Insiders’ Guide to Oklahoma City, by Deborah Bouziden (2009)

FACT CHECK: WKY was licensed on March 16, 1922, making it the 28th-oldest radio station in the United States.
 

The oldest commercial radio station in the United States is KDKA of Pittsburgh, which was granted its license on Oct. 27, 1920, and became the world’s first commercial radio station at 8 p.m. Nov. 2, 1920, when Henry P. Davis began reporting results from the presidential election, interspersed with live banjo music.

The oldest stations west of the Mississippi are California stations KWG of Stockton, KNX of Los Angeles and KCBS of San Francisco, all licensed in 1921.

WKY, headquartered in Oklahoma City and purchased in 1928 by The Oklahoma Publishing Company, would become an NBC affiliate and, from 1936-51, broadcast from the top of the Skirvin Hotel. The station launched the careers of 20-year-old Walter Cronkite, the first play-by-play commentator for University of Oklahoma football, and future television talk show host Mike Douglas, who worked as a WKY staff singer.

Over the decades, WKY’s format evolved from Top 40 to country music to easy listening to adult contemporary to talk radio to sports programming. In 2002, after 74 years of ownership, OPUBCO sold the station to Citadel Broadcasting, which merged with Cumulus Media in 2011.

Today, a floor-to-ceiling enlargement of a vintage photograph of an early WKY broadcast dominates the studio. The 930 AM, 5,000-watt WKY targets the region’s booming Hispanic population with a format of Spanish-language programming and Mexican music, emanating from the sixth floor of an office building off Northwest Expressway.

Although not the first station west of the Mississippi, WKY is the oldest station in Oklahoma.

Several times each hour, its announcers remind listeners of the station’s nickname, which evokes its 94-year history and ability to survive changing times: La Indomable.
The Indomitable.


SOURCES: Radio history sites oldradio.comearlyradiohistory.us; National Radio Club, nrxcdax.org

Editor’s note: Oklahoma is rich with history, lore and fun facts … but some of them aren’t quite factual. In this series, M.J. Alexander hunts for the accuracy – or lack thereof – behind some of our state’s stories.

 

 

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September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
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Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
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Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
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Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
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The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
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Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
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Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
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Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

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Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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