Rough Beginnings

Assigned call sign of KQDE

In 1959, radio broadcaster Paul Crain looked to Spokane to expand his ownership of radio stations to another market. At the time, Mr. Crain owned at least part interest in a group of several several radio stations employing callsigns which sound like "Cutie." The stations included KUTI - Yakima, Washington; KQTY - Everett, Washington; KQDY - Minot, North Dakota; KQTT - Fargo, North Dakota; and KUDI - Great Falls, Montana. It is interesting to note that this was not Mr. Crain's first venture into the Spokane market. He had been the program director at KNEW from 1947 to 1955.

On 18 June 1961, the FCC issued a construction permit to Mr. Crain for a station in Spokane on 1280 kHz. The station was to have the call letters KQDE and was to be a 5000 watt daytime only, two-tower directional station, located on the Palouse Highway on the Moran Prairie south of Spokane. Mr. Crain stated that the station's format was to be country music because according to "a recent survey, shows that many listeners would like to hear more western music than is now being offered by the local stations.." and "featuring western music all day long will give many listeners the kind of music they desire but are not now receiving."

Transfer Deal Hits Snag

Crain never did put the station on the air and the KQDE call letters were never used as the FCC granted a call letter change to KUDY in January 1962 before the station was built. Meanwhile, Mr. Crain was negotiating in 1961 to sell the station to Spokane radio broadcast veteran Delbert Bertholf (also know as Del Cody) for $1,763. On 16 May 1962, the FCC approved the transfer of KUDY's CP from Paul Crain to Delbert Bertholf on condition that Bertholf dispose of his creditor interest in KLYK (formerly KFIO/KSPO). That deal initially ran into a snag when Bertholf was unable to dispose of his interest in KLYK. Charles E. Coon of Headlight Oil in Spokane withdrew his offer to purchase Bertholf's interest in KLYK. Mr. Coon was supposedly convinced that "KLYK was worthless on paper."

Construction Permit Finally Transferred

Bertholf was eventually able to transfer his interest in KLYK to his partner D. Gene Williams, making Williams the sole owner of the station. This allowed Crain and Bertholf to consummate the deal on 11 September 1962. Bertholf then set forth the wheels to start construction of the station. Bertholf made it clear he wanted to retain the country music format because he also had made his own survey and determined that a large number of people wanted country music.

Struggle to Get Station on the Air

It was a struggle for Bertholf to get the station on the air. Among the issues were figuring out the best directional pattern to use to protect KIT in Yakima, which was also on 1280 kHz, equipment delivery issues, and winter weather which caused problems with pouring concrete. The FCC granted Bertholf several construction permit extensions. He finally sold the partially built station to KUDY, Inc. on 20 November 1964. KUDY, Inc was a three-way, one-third partnership between James B. Johnson, Carl J. Issel, and Gerald Monson all of Minot, North Dakota. Johnson served as president and general manager, Issel promised future capital for the station, and Monson put up the inital operation costs. Del Cody then turned his attention to KSPO.

For the Cutie Color Radio chapter of the KUDY story, click here.