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1290 AM, Omaha

City of License: Omaha, NE

First Air Date: July 10, 1925

Operating Power: 500 watts

Original Call Letters: KOIL

General Manager: Don Searle

Program Director: Harold Hughs

Chief Engineer: R.J. Rockwell

Issued To: Mona Oil Company

Through the Years

  • 1925

    July 10, 1925-  Station sign-on at 1080 kHz at 500 watts.  Announcer- Howard Martin, Program Director- Harold Hughs, Engineer-R.J. Rockwell.

  • 1926

    Station frequency moves without authorization to 980 kHz, at 5,000 watts.

  • 1927

    Frequency is moved back to 1080, 1,500 watts by the newly-formed Federal Radio Commission .

    Station carries the CBS inaugural broadcast on September 18, 1927, the Westernmost station on the chain at that time.

    Short-lived shortwave simulcast begins.  Licensed to operate W9XU on 4910kHz at 500 watts.

    December 1, 1927- Frequency moved again to 940 kHz at 5,000 watts and is ordered to share time with KFAB, Lincoln.

  • 1928

    Frequency moved again to 1260 kHz at 1,000 watts.  Station opens remote Omaha studio in the Fontenelle Hotel, 18th & Douglas, Omaha.

  • 1929

    Daytime power is increased to 2,500 watts.

    April, 1929-  Simulcasts on its shortwave outlet at 6060, 500 watts.  The station is widely heard, but taken off the following year.

  • 1930

    October 12, 1930-Originates a weekly music program for CBS, the Barnsdall Symphony Orchestra and volcalists, a half hour show on Sundays.  A local original drama program KOIL Krime Klan begins a 17-year run.

  • 1931

    Opens an Omaha studio in a bungalow atop the Brandeis Building, 210 South 16th Street.  Two studios, one large enough for a 75-piece orchestra.

    Station drops CBS, grabs NBC Blue from KFAB.

  • 1932

    Manager Don Searle resigns, and moves to WIBW, Topeka, KS.  Replaced by John Henry.

  • 1933

    Station is leased to Union Holding Company, owners of KFAB and KFOR, Lincoln.

  • 1935

    Station is purchased by the Union Holding Company.

  • 1936

    Community of License is moved from Council Bluffs, IA to Omaha, NE.

    Station beefs up the news department with a mobile news unit, combines with KFAB delivering 16 newscasts a day.

    William O. Wiseman of the Omaha Bee-News delivers newscasts as “The Globe Trotter”.

  • 1937

    September 13, 1937-Station opens a new transmitter site along South Omaha Bridge Road in Council Bluffs, near Lake Manawa, with a power of 5,000 watts day, 1,000 watts night.

    Station moves studios in with co-owned stations KFAB and KFOR in the Omaha National Bank building at 17th & Farnam, Omaha.

    Manager John Henry resigns. Don Searle returns from Topeka to head the station group, now known as the Central States Broadcasting System and stays up until 1943.

    Station joins the Mutual Broadcasting System, a programming co-op network, and produces the weekly Parade of News for the network.

    Belle West joins the staff as Women’s Editor, and begins Shopping With Polly show that runs 17 years.

  • 1938

    September 3, 1938- covers Boys Town movie premiere in Omaha for Mutual.

    Station is one of 34 stations nationally to begin Apex experiments on 30.1 MHz in seeking static-free and improved fidelity for broadcasting.  Simulcasts AM 1290, heard all over the country.

  • 1939

    The Apex experiments are discontinued when FM is developed and proves superior.

    April 29, 1939- Station drops NBC Blue for CBS, the network also airing on co-owned KFAB, Lincoln.

    KOIL originates the live broadcast of Ceil B. DeMille’s Union Pacific premiere for MBS in April.

    June 4, 1939-Covers Boys Town graduation ceremonies for MBS

  • 1940

    May 15, 1940- Assists with a live CBS production of Burns & Allen show, originating at Aksarben.

    Grocery Boy Show, a 15-minute daily midday program sponsored by an association of grocers and food distributors begins a 36-year run, though on KOWH for six of those years in the 1950s.

  • 1941

    March 29, 1941- Frequency is moved to 1290 kHz during the NARBA frequency shifts, and begins night time direction operation permitting night power increase to 5,000 watts.

  • 1943

    Station produces Victory Matinee, a 15-minute daily music and comedy show airing weekdays.

  • 1944

    FCC outlaws duopolies and Central States Broadcasting System sells KOIL to Stuart Investments, Lincoln, NE for $250,000.

    KFAB and KFOR moved out of the Omaha National Bank Building, leaving KOIL alone with the studio space.

  • 1945

    KOIL drops CBS for ABC, the format NBC Blue Network.

  • 1948

    The morning show with Byron Head tops the Hooper ratings with a 48.1 share.

  • 1951

    January, 1951- KOIL studios/offices move to Aquila Court Building, 511 South 17th, Omaha.

  • 1953

    March, 1953-Station is sold to the Nebraska Rural Radio Association for $189,000.  Nebraska native Don Burden is brought in from KEIO, Pocatello, Idaho as sales manager.

  • 1954

    December, 1954- Don Burden buys KOIL for $161,500 and forms Central States Broadcasting Company.  Burden has 26% ownership with Chic Crabtree’s 25%, giving the duo controlling interest.

  • 1955

    KOIL drops ABC while increasing recorded music shows copying the Storz formula being developed at KOWH 660 AM.

    Station begins a 24-hour regular schedule.

  • 1956

    The year brings a Pop music takeover; 80% of the station’s playlist is from Cashbox trade publication’s Top 100.

  • 1957

    The old RCA transmitter is replaced with a new 5,000 watt Gates unit.

    Storz sells daytime-only KOWH but the Top 40 battle continues.  KOIL uses the liner, “The station that doesn’t run down at sundown.”

  • 1958

    Steve Brown joins the staff, and becomes the national program director by 1960, vice president a few years later.

  • 1959

    Don Burden acquires the majority interest in the station.

  • 1960

    KOIL wins the Top 40 battle in Omaha and tops the ratings.  KOWH flips call letters to KMEO and changes format to a lush orchestral music.

  • 1966

    The transmitter is moved from Council Bluffs west to 60th and Harrison so that the night time patter null misses most of Omaha.

  • 1968

    The new showcase studios and offices open at 8901 Indian Hills Drive, near 90th & Dodge, Omaha.  The $1.5million three-story building houses KOIL, sister KOIL-FM, Burden’s Bridal Fair franchise, and soon a computer room for program logs and accounting.

  • 1970

    Night time remote control is authorized from the studios allowing the cramped transmitter studio to be retired.

  • 1970

    Steve Brown leaves for West Coast concert promotions job.  Returns in 1974.  One story he relates is that he introduced the Beach Boys to the Beatles.

  • 1974

    A new Top 40 competitor WOW AM 590 enters the arena.  Don Burden counters with a $100,000 Dream House giveaway contest.

    The staff lounge at the station is discovered to be bugged with a mic and tv camera for eavesdropping.  This leads to AFTRA union begin voted in the following year.

  • 1975

    Sam Holman is brought in as national Program Director, Steve Brown is moved into operations.   WOW morning man Jimmy O’Neill of Shindig fame is lured away to do afternoons.

  • 1976

    KOIL is credited with breaking the hit song “Convoy” produced locally by adman Bill Fries, and sets off a nation CB craze.

    KOIL and four other stations in Burden’s group are silenced by the FCC for alleged “improprieties” and “serious misconduct” involving alleged double-billing and political favors.

    December 16, 1976-KOIL returns to the air under Beneficial Broadcasting run by  Burden friend Nathan Novak, while permanent owners are to be determined from multiple applications.

  • 1979

    KOIL begins weekly Peony Park teen dances, called “Sprite Night”, a popular event lasting into the 1980’s which later moved to KQKQ 98.5.

  • 1980

    Station picks up the new RKO Network for news and lifestyle features.

  • 1981

    Station studios/offices are moved to the Twin Towers Building, 3000 Farnam, Omaha.

  • 1983

    New station owners are finally determined.  NewKoil takes over on January 11, 1983.  Steve Brown is named general manager and advisor to the executive committee.

    Creighton University, the beneficiary of KOIL profits under Beneficial Broadcasting, claim no contributions were ever made.  KOIL was allowed to use the profits to first make up for earlier losses.

  • 1984

    Program Director Terry Mason increases the Oldies mix with a contemporary format.

  • 1985

    Studios/Offices are moved to 10617 Burt Circle near Westroads Mall in Omaha.

  • 1986

    KOIL format goes All-Oldies.  The year-old competitor, All-Oldies KEDS 1490 gives up, flipping to a simulcast of sister FM rock station KEZO 92.3.

  • 1987

    KOIL is sold to Valley Broadcasting owned by Bob Greenlee and former KOIL DJ, Bob Dean.

  • 1988

    KOIL studios/offices are moved to 1108 Dodge St., Omaha.

  • 1989

    An agreement is reached to sell KOIL to Ovation Broadcasting (Phoenix, AZ) along with co-owned KXKT 103.7 FM for $5.6 million but the deal fails to close.

  • 1990

    Station picks up Satellite Music Network Oldies programming, replacing the thinning local on-air staff.

  • 1992

    Station drops Oldies programming to then simulcast KXKT 103.7 FM’s country format.

  • 1993

    August, 1993- KOIL is sold to Mitchell Broadcasting company for $470,000 joining KKAR 1180 for Omaha’s first duopoly since the 1940’s.  A new transmitter at 60th & Harrison was installed before closing, replacing the Gates unit that caught fire while the sale was pending.

    August 20, 1993-KOIL swaps call letters with  KKAR, picking up its news/talk format, while 1180 KKAR flips to an Adult Standards format.

  • 1996

    Mitchell Broadcasting stations are awarded Husker sports from the Pinnacle Sports Network (Paul Aaron) and will air on 1290 KKAR and its sister station KGDE 101.9 FM for five years.

  • 2000

    A Local Marketing Agreement with Waitt Broadcasting is reached to operate the Mitchell stations.  Waitt purchases the group including KKAR 1290 the following year.

    November, 2000- Waitt moves all the Omaha Mitchell stations from 10th & Farnam to their new location at 5010 Capitol Street in the old Cox Cable building.

  • 2001

    Husker sports rights return to KFAB along with the popular Rush Limbaugh show.

  • 2012

    KOIL Call letters return to 1290 AM.  KKAR calls are retired.