|City of license||Seattle, Washington|
|Broadcast||Puget Sound region, Washington|
|Branding|| 710 ESPN KIRO|
("KIRO" pronounced as "Cairo")
|First air date||April 27, 1927|
|Power||50,000 watts (Day & Night)|
|Sister stations(s)|| KTTH|
|Former callsigns||660 KPCB|
|Owner|| Bonneville International |
(Bonneville Holding Company)
|Sister Stations|| KTTH|
|Website||710 ESPN KIRO's Website|
KIRO (710 AM) is a radio station based in Seattle, Washington on the shores of Lake Union with 2 towers on Vashon Island, broadcasting on 710 kHz in the AM radio spectrum. It's format is primarily sports radio. The outlet is affiliated with ESPN Radio.
On August 12 2008, KIRO began simulcasting it's programming on 97.3 FM, which had been occupied by classic hits sister station KBSG (now KIRO-FM). On April 2 2009, the simulcast ended & the station went to an all sports format. Actual sports began on April 6th, 2009.
The Early Years as KPCB 650 (1927-1937)Edit
KIRO began broadcasting on April 27 1927, as the 100-watt station KPCB 650. It's founder was Moritz Thomsen of the Pacific Coast Biscuit Company. Among it's announcers was Chet Huntley, later of TV's Huntley-Brinkley Report. In 1935 Saul Haas's Queen City Broadcasting Company took over the station. He changed the call letters to KIRO & increased it's power to 500 Watts. Haas, who was well connected in liberal politics & the business community, wanted a simple, pronounceable & recognizable word for his new station. KING, after King County, Washington was not available @ that time.
1937-1960 (Now 710 KIRO)Edit
In 1937, KIRO was assigned the 710 frequency & increased it's power to 1,000 Watts. Soon after, the Seattle CBS affiliation moved to KIRO from KOL. Known as "The Friendly Station," KIRO personalities broke from the formal announcing style that was commonplace during the early days of radio.
On June 29 1941, KIRO's new 50,000-Watt transmitter on Vashon Island became operational. From the 1930s through the 1950s, KIRO recorded countless hours of CBS programming for time-delayed rebroadcast. These electrical transcriptions are, in many cases, the only recordings made of World War II-era news coverage over the CBS network. The discs were donated to the University of Washington in the early 1960s & are now held @ the National Archives as the Milo Ryan Phonoarchive Collection.
In 1948, the original KIRO-FM (now KKWF) took the air @ 100.7 MHz, initially rebroadcasting it's AM sister's programming. Preparing for a future TV allocation, KIRO moved in 1952 from downtown studios to a larger building on Queen Anne Hill. This peak was already home to the KING-TV transmitter & would soon be the site for KOMO-TV as well. Queen City Broadcasting was awarded Seattle's last remaining VHF license in 1958.
Haas sold KIRO in 1964 to Bonneville International Corporation, part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bonneville executives Lloyd Cooney & Ken Hatch arrived in Seattle to lead the combined broadcast group, which included KIRO-AM in 1964. Like many network radio affiliates following the demise of full-time block programming, KIRO spent the 1960s playing Middle of the road music in addition to long-form news & interview shows. Morning host Jim French spent many years broadcasting from the rotating restaurant atop the Space Needle & was live on the air from that perch during a 6.5-magnitude earthquake in April, 1965. Bonneville moved it's Seattle radio & TV stations to the newly constructed "Broadcast House" @ 3rd & Broad in 1968.
In 1973, KIRO ended a 35-year affiliation with CBS - an affiliation it has since resumed - & switched to the Mutual Broadcasting System. Around this time, KIRO also picked up Herb Jepko's "Nitecap," a groundbreaking overnight telephone-talk show from Salt Lake City sister station KSL. KIRO "Newsradio 71" debuted in June 1974, with news & talk segments replacing most music programming.
Station leadership & ownership remained constant through the next decades. In 1980, Cooney left to run for US Senate & Hatch became President, CEO & Chairman - a position he held until 1995. Under Hatch's leadership, KIRO Inc. (which included KIRO-TV/AM/FM, KING-AM/FM & 3rd Avenue Productions) became 1 of the nation's premier regional broadcast groups. KIRO-AM received much national recognition & was lead very successfully by General Manager Joe Abel during this period.
For 25 years, KIRO's morning news, anchored by Bill Yeend, consistently placed @ or near the top of the Seattle Arbitron ratings. Yeend now anchors the morning news @ cross-town rival KOMO-AM. Gregg Hersholt is the current morning news anchor.
Sports play-by-play has been a staple of the KIRO schedule throughout it's years as a news/talk station. Since the team's inception in 1976, KIRO has been the flagship broadcaster for the Seattle Seahawks. From 1985-2002, the station originated Seattle Mariners baseball broadcasts; the broadcasts return to KIRO in 2009. From 1978-1987 they were the flagship station of the Seattle SuperSonics. Additionally, KIRO has carried Washington Huskies & Washington State Cougars football for stints during the '80s & '90s. KIRO was also the radio home to popular sportscaster Wayne Cody, who did live sports reports, play-by-play & a sports-related evening talk show.
Reporter Dave Ross joined the station from Atlanta station WSB in 1978 & took over as noon-3 PM talk host in 1987. He moved to the 9 AM-noon timeslot after the retirement of Jim French in 1992. Ross unsuccessfully ran for Washington's 8th Congressional district as a Democratic candidate in 2004. While Ross unofficially announced his candidacy in May, he did not leave his on-air position until just prior to the July filing deadline. In response to complaints from state Republican party officials, Ross claimed that he was contractually bound to continue working for KIRO until he was a bona fide candidate.
Though he returned to the air immediately following the November election, the station's ratings did not recover entirely & Ross was moved to the afternoon drive-time shift in February, 2005. Ross moved back to his 9 AM-noon shift in May, 2006.
In addition to his KIRO work, Ross does a daily commentary on the CBS Radio Network & is a frequent substitute for Charles Osgood on CBS Radio's "Osgood File" segments.
After selling KIRO-TV to A.H. Belo Corp. in 1995, the Bonneville Seattle radio stations moved to facilities on Eastlake Avenue. KIRO-AM/FM (now KKWF) & KNWX (now KTTH) were sold to Entercom Communications of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania in 1997. Bonneville reacquired KIRO, KTTH & KBSG (now KIRO-FM) from Entercom in 2007.
KIRO is 1 of the most listened-to stations in Seattle, according to Arbitron ratings & has won numerous awards, including 7 Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2004 alone.
KIRO-AM has announced that they will switch to a sports radio format (as 710 ESPN KIRO) on April 1, 2009. In addition, KIRO-AM will also carry Seattle Mariners games, beginning in the 2009 season. KIRO-FM will continue the news/talk format alone.