BEND, OR -- KBND radio officially went on the air 80 years ago, with a mix of local news and live music, as well as nationally syndicated shows. Originally owned by the Bend Bulletin, KBND started its regular programming at 7 a.m. December 20, 1938; broadcasting on AM 1310 from the basement of the Pilot Butte Inn. The night before, officials dedicated and tested the signal with speeches from dignitaries. According to the front page of the December 20th Bulletin, following that formal test, listeners from Tumalo, Redmond and Prineville called the station, impressed with the clear reception.
It was the first broadcast station in Central Oregon. "Radio was the connection. It was how everyone was communicating [with] one another," says Kelly Cannon-Miller, with the Deschutes Historical Museum. She equates it to today's social media, "Getting the word out, sharing important news bits, who’s doing what. It was absolutely a main method of staying connected to one another and who was up to what."
Five days later the station celebrated its first Christmas with special programming; a tradition that continued for decades, "Broadcasts of A Christmas Carol with different actors; the Barrymore family shows up in some of them. For a good 20 years, actually on Christmas night, they would do a national broadcast of the story of the Nativity. Individual church programs would be listed in there, in and around the national broadcast; or, someone coming in and singing Christmas carols."
For more on the history of KBND and radio in Central Oregon, listen to our podcast with Kelly Cannon-Miller.