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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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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
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Cost: $23.95

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Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
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Cost: Free

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Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
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Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Cost: Free

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Potbelly Sandwich Shop
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OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
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Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Delta Dental

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
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Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

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Heritage Place
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Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
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Branson Junior High
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
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RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

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Cost: Free

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Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

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3300 Market Pl
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Cost: $59.95

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The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
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Cost: $250

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3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
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Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
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Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
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