Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
This week's installment of Site of the Week kicks off our recap of our second "Big Trip" of the very busy year of 2011. After two weeks all over Florida and a week in Ireland, our usual April jaunt to Las Vegas for the NAB Show was followed by a whirlwind weeklong drive that took us eastward into New Mexico and then up into the Four Corners region before looping back to Vegas to fly home.
The first day of the trip involved a long-haul drive: we left Las Vegas early in the afternoon, headed over the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge and straight out to I-40 across northern Arizona.
We'd checked out the radio landscape in Kingman and Flagstaff on previous trips (and would see them again at the end of this one), so our first radio stop this time came some 300 miles into the drive when we pulled off the interstate and on to old Route 66 in Winslow, an hour or so downhill from Flagstaff.
Unlike Flagstaff's piney forest, this is flat, desert country, and so it's not at all hard to spot the tower of KINO (1230) as we come into town from the west. KINO (they pronounce it "key-noe") signed on back in 1962 as the second signal in Winslow. It replaced KVNC (1010), which had operated from 1952 until owner Gila Broadcasting went bankrupt in 1961. A former Gila employee, Willard Shoecraft, apparently had a deal to buy several of the company's stations, but a different buyer instead emerged, leading Shoecraft to start competing stations, including KINO here in Winslow and KATO in Safford.
After surviving its tumultuous beginnings, KINO is on just its second owner in all these years, transmitting from what I believe to be the original tower site, now at the end of Easy Street in a small residential subdivision tucked in between the I-40 bypass and old 66. There was apparently a studio tucked away here, too, but we didn't see it - and instead, we made our way down old 66 into the sleepy downtown to see Winslow's tourist attraction.
Yup, this is the "Winslow, Arizona" of Eagles fame, and the city honored the song a few years back by erecting a "Standin' on the Corner" park, complete with Eagles music playing on the loudspeakers of the gift shop across the street, a big "66" logo painted in the intersection, a flat-bed Ford parked along the street (alas, with no girl to be found inside), and the obligatory photo-op statue. (Little could I have imagined when the photo above was snapped that I'd be back here at this same corner just a few months later - and once again with a traveling companion of classic-rock age who was nonetheless unfamiliar with the Eagles' music. Go figure.)
It's all little Winslow can do to sustain even one small AM station - but the next sizable town down the road has a little more radio to offer. Holbrook, 35 miles east of Winslow, became a radio town in 1955 when KDJI (1270) signed on. Back then, its studio/transmitter facility on Broadcast Lane sat right off Route 66 on the west edge of town, and among the cast of characters who passed through on the way to bigger things was Herb Jepko, who was general manager around 1961 and would go on within a few years to create the popular "Nitecaps" national all-night talk show.
Today, "Broadcast Lane" sits behind a gate as the access road to the local sewage treatment facility, off the ramp that leads to I-40, and KDJI runs satellite talk, simulcast with KVWM (970) down in Show Low, 50 miles to the south. In 1993, KDJI added an FM sister station, country KZUA (92.1), which in turn added a Show Low sister FM, KZUZ (93.5), in 2011. Their Holbrook office sits on Navajo Boulevard, one of the two main drags through town, just a few blocks south of the interstate - and the KZUA tower, with its 10-bay antenna, sits just off I-40 east of town.
There's now one more FM signal in town, American Family Radio's KBMH (90.3), operating from a short antenna downtown. And there's a TV station here - well, sort of. See that "Daystar" logo on the sign at the KDJI/KZUA offices? That's for KDTP (Channel 11), which is the product of a most interesting swap that began when channel 11 signed on here as KPHZ in 2001. The station soon became a Telemundo affiliate, using its status as a nominally full-power license in the sprawling Phoenix TV market to demand cable must-carry 200 miles away in Phoenix itself, where the signal was also seen over the air on a low-power signal.
In 2006, Telemundo swapped its Holbrook channel 11 license for Daystar's full-power channel 39 (then KDTP) in Phoenix - and along the way, it persuaded the FCC to swap the non-commercial reservation from 39 in Phoenix to 11 in Holbrook, making the new KDTP channel 11 a noncommercial license that still enjoys must-carry into Phoenix...and a nominal main studio up here in Holbrook.
It’s 2013! Do you have your Tower Site Calendar 2013 yet? We’ve still got some left, and they’re shipping right away from the all new Fybush.com store! Order now and your wall can be festooned with Florida and much more all through 2013. (We’ve also got the very last FM Atlas copies available for sale, and the new edition of the National Radio Club’s AM Log.)
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And don’t miss a batch of Winslow and Holbrook IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: Gallup, NM