Thursday marks a big day for all of KTAR’s listeners and readers in the Valley: the state’s largest radio station officially turns 90 years old.
First signing on June 21, 1922, KTAR originally was designated the call letters KFAD (short for Kan’t Fool A Dodge). KFAD was founded by Charles and Warren McArthur, who at the time owned the largest automobile dealership in the southwestern United States.
The McArthur brothers toured Arizona, handing out free radios to farmers so they could get weather reports. The brothers also used the radio to promote tourism in Arizona and their dealership.
The McArthur brothers owned KFAD until 1929, when the stock market forced the sale of the station to The Arizona Republic, which changed the station’s call letters to KREP. After KREP was mispronounced, the letters KTAR (Keep Taking Arizona Republic) were thought up and approved by the FCC.
In 1930, KTAR became the first affiliate of NBC. Also at this time, the station moved to the top of the Heard Building and rose over 100 feet above Central Avenue, including the antenna.
As time went on and the length of programming grew, KTAR needed more power and more room to grow. In 1940, the station moved to the corner of 36th Street and Thomas Road, becoming a 5,000-watt station. The new location also had two antennas — one 300 feet tall, the other 400 — making KTAR the first directional broadcast station in Arizona.
In 1943, KTAR, along with several other stations, was sold to John J. Louis, who used KTAR’s NBC affiliation and his newly-purchased radio network to broadcast NBC content statewide.
In the 1950s, KTAR again needed more room and the station was moved to the KTAR Building at 1101 N. Central Ave.
After Louis’ death, KTAR was sold in 1968 to Karl Eller and his associates, who owned several broadcast stations in Yuma, along with an extensive outdoor advertising company.
In 1973, the KTAR studios were remodeled and expanded to make room for “Action News,” an all-news service. That same year, KTAR went to a 24-hour broadcast.
In 1979, KTAR was transferred from Keller’s ownership to the Pulitzer Publishing Company, along with its sister FM station, KBBC. In this same year, KTAR was moved to a new studio at 301 W. Osborn Road.
In the early 2000s, KTAR changed owners several times, finally ending up in the possession of Bonneville Media International.
In 2007, News 620 KTAR became Sports 620 KTAR and News/Talk 92.3 KTAR launched.
And now, in 2012, KTAR 92.3 and Arizona Sports 620 celebrates 90 years of informing the Valley. Thank you, to all our listeners and readers over the years and the staff who worked to bring the information to them, who have made this possible.