Licensed in May 1965
The station came on the air on 30 December 1964 with program testing. The FCC granted a license to cover the construction permit on 5 May 1965. It is difficult to determine the station's format based on the FCC broadcasting license files archives, but it appears to have been a block type format with various types of music played all day long. The owners decided to use the slogan "Cutie Color Radio" again keeping with the "Cutie" theme.
Called "Cutie Color Radio" and then Christian Format
Tom Read informs me that the station was called "Cutie Color Radio" and as General Manager for the station, he changed the format to Christian Conservative Programming "For God and Country."
Tom Read Recounts What Happened Next at KUDY.
"A small bank in Spokane was purchased by a major bank in Tacoma, Washington, National Bank of Washington. The President of the Tacoma bank had been involved in radio in Ellensburg, Washington.
"The Spokane bank had loaned money for the KUDY building and land. When the Tacoma bank took it over, it noticed that few if any payments had been made and that they had a problem.
"The President of the bank knew of my involvement in radio and prior ownership of KTWR in Tacoma and phoned me one day and asked if I had ever heard of KUDY in Spokane.
"I told him I had met someone from the station at a recent Washington broadcasters meeting and knew that it was a daytime only directional station and was the last station to go on the air in Spokane and was aware that they were having a hard time. My impression from meeting the manager at the WSAB Convention(Washington State Association of Broadcasters) was that he did not know what he was doing.
"After some discussion, the President asked me if I would go over to Spokane and inspect the station and make a report and recommendation to the bank.
"I went to Spokane and upon walking into the station found that the manager, Jim Johnson, seldom showed up. He was not at the station that day. The receptionist was playing cards with someone at the front desk, and the person on the air did not have an FCC First Class Radio Telephone License, so another person was on the payroll who had a license but was not an engineer and did nothing but take transmitter readings every half hour.
"The so called news man was wearing sandals and did nothing but read five minutes of news he ripped from the UPI news wire. He appeared less than professional but not a bad voice on the air, as I recall.
"The bank must have informed Gerry Munson in Minot that they were sending me to Spokane. He immediately contacted me and wanted to meet with me in Spokane.
"The end of the story will be how KUDY went down hill rapidly after Dave Jack purchased it.
"He used Spokane as a bonus for his Portland station.
"All of the good local programming that I had developed and live programs went out the door, never to return.
"But actually, it was all for the good. We never intended, when we started the ACN network, to come into Spokane. We felt the great need was Central Washington.
"Because KUDY was so bad, literally a non entity, we were urged, almost demanded that we come into Spokane so we decided to apply to move an FM into Spokane and ended up with two FMs, later one FM and one great AM. When KUDY finally dropped the religious format, I met one of the national program producers on the station and they told me they never had one response from KUDY.
"Once ACN came into Spokane, the then owners realized it was useless to continue the format. Most of the programs they aired would only pay them on a PI, per inquiry basis, and that amounted to practically nothing.
"1280 is now doing a decent job with a liberal, national talk network which can be sold to advertisers."
"Monson and I had dinner at the Spokane Club and I liked him immediately.
"I was curious how an officer of a financial institution in Minot, North Dakota ever got involved with station ownership in Spokane, Washington.
"It was a typical case of an announcer that always wanted his own station. I can't think of many examples of such ownership that were successful. KUDY was another example where such ownership was a financial disaster.
"According to Gerry Monson, Jim Johnson was an announcer in Minot, North Dakota. He always wanted to have his own station and heard that a station in Minot was for sale. He contacted the station only to be told that he was too late. The station had already been sold, but had he ever heard of Spokane, Washington. KUDY was part of an ownership chain that used call letters that could be pronounced, cutie. KUTI in Yakima, KUDY in Spokane, and others.
"Jim Johnson was obviously seen as a young, inexperienced business person. In other words, "they saw him coming".
"He took the bate about Spokane and started looking for financing to purchase KUDY. However, unlike the station in Minot, KUDY was not operating. It was not yet on the air. They only had a Construction Permit to sell.
"At the time, later changed, the FCC would allow a Construction Permit to be sold for any amount of money. Later, they could be sold only for documented out of pocket costs.
"I don't remember what price was paid for the KUDY Construction Permit but at the time I recall thinking that the buyers were really taken, they paid way too much.
"Johnson had a friend in Minot who owned some rental real estate. He became a one third partner but put up only an IOU for his one third ownership in that he did not have any cash to speak of.
"Johnson then went to a financial institution in Minot to see if he could borrow the money necessary to purchase the KUDY CP. That is how Johnson became involved with Gerald C. Monson.
Evidently Johnson and his friend could not qualify for a loan but they talked Monson into becoming a 1/3rd partner who eventually put up practically all of the money.
What they bought was debt and a partially built radio station. KUDY was authorized for 5000 watts, daytime operation only. It was a directional daytime station which had to protect KIT in Yakima on 1280 which was 5000 watts daytime, non directional.
"About the only assets, as I recall, was a building, two towers, and a old, used transmitter which was purchased on contract from RCA, but it was not an RCA transmitter.
"Johnson was able to get the station on the air with Monson's funds.
"Jim Johnson was a rather good promoter. He did promote the station with some unique ideas. He purchased billboards in Spokane. He made up flyers which promoted the station. He purchased a jingle package. He signed a contract for a news wire from United Press International. He signed a contract for a production music service.
"In short, Jim Johnson was the salesmen's best friend. I got the impression that he purchased everything that came through the front door. Of course, it was Monson's money.
"At the time, I assumed Gerry Monson was in his mid to late 50s. He was like your grandfather. A very nice and decent man. I immediately concluded that Johnson and his partner had taken advantage of Monson and I truly felt sorry for him.
"Monson had saved his money through the years and obviously was given an overly optimistic, unrealislistic appraisal of what the newest radio station in Spokane could produce in the way of profit.
"At our dinner in Spokane, Gerry confided in me that he had literally gone through his life savings and would have to keep working and start all over again with respect to building for his retirement. He said things were so bad that the only thing he knew to do was to just shut the station down and turn the license back to the FCC.
"I had gone over the books before Gerry arrived in Spokane and was aware that the IRS was owed money, the State of Washington, the bank, and UPI along with the phone company.
"Jim Johnson's dream had come true when they put KUDY on the air. He was upbeat and enthusiastic but like many people could not handle defeat. He simply withdrew. He stopped working, literally. He was not even coming into the station when I arrived in Spokane on behalf of the bank.
"It was a long but very interesting dinner conversation. I felt so sorry for Gerry that I told him I did not think the station was in any condition to be sold but I did not recommend that he turn it off and send the license back to the FCC. In that case, he would have no hope of ever recouping a dime of his investment.
"I knew some immediate decisions had to be made. I told Gerry that I studied the market and had an idea. I could make no guarantees but I would come over from Tacoma three or four days a week and implement my idea and see if we could salvage the station.
"I told Gerry I would not take a salary, there was no money anyway, but he could hire my corporation as a consultant. We would only receive a fee if the station could earn the money.
"My condition was that he had to give me full authority. I told him people would tell him I was too young, too inexperienced, and that I would ruin the station and that he would not understand what I was about to do.
"He immediately agreed and made plans to return to Minot and his employment. I did calculate that he did have to come up with a minimum amount of money to get the government paid but that would be the last he would have to put into the station. If I was wrong, we would just shut it down.
"With full authority in hand, I got rid of every employee, held a meeting at a local restaurant and told them they would be paid through the last day they worked.
"I had a First Class Radio Telephone Operators License so I started operating the station. I also had to make some technical wiring changes in the control room.
"My next meeting was with the manager of the local bank which NBW had just purchased. He was simply wonderful. His name is George Frantz who became a life long friend.
"I went back to Tacoma to pick up more clothes and talked my secretary into coming to Spokane with me to keep the station on the air. Her name was Carolyn Wahlers who had worked in the office at KTAC in the Winthrop Hotel where my office was located.
"I told George Frantz that I had an idea for the station that might work but I needed his help. He called a meeting of local creditors and I told them there was a chance that they could be paid at least some of what they were owed.
"I immediately canceled the UPI news service and every other contract that Johnson had entered into.
"All of the local creditors agreed to go along except one store that had provided all of the office furniture including a very expensive fire proof safe. I think it was a lease or lease purchase. I told them to pick up all of their furniture the next morning but they would not receive any funds and if they sued I would advise Monson to file bankruptcy and turn the station off the air. This would mean that all the other local business people in the room would not have a change of getting a dime so the furniture store pickup up their office furniture and were never heard from again.
"I got a flat door and placed a two drawer filing cabinet on each end and Carolyn sat on one side and I sat on the other. That was the only desk in the station. The rest of the front office was bare.
"Next, the new format and Jim Ameche."