CALL LETTER ORIGINS

The following is a list of call letters assigned to radio/TV stations in the Puget Sound region/Western Washington [1921 to present]. Some stations listed here are now defunct. Some call letters were chosen by station owners for specific reasons.
http://nelson.oldradio.com/ has a list of radio stations in the USA with call letter origin, based on:

E: Euphony – Sound of call letters, perhaps spelling a word
F: Frequency – Call letters related in some way to dial position
O: Ownership Related – Initials or name of [original] licensee
L: Location Related – Pertaining to geographic feature, region or city
S: Slogan – Promotional phrase, often reflecting licensee or city nickname

Without consulting their list, based on my fuzzy memory and best guess, I have attempted to provide the meaning/reference of station call letters in our area. If you have knowledge of some of these call letter origins, leave a comment here – or contact me and this list will be up-dated.

** Updated with suggested comments **

KAAR – Car radio – All American Radio

KAFE – Soft Rock Cafe

KAGT – Skagit County

KAMT – AM Tacoma

KANY

KAPS – Caps

KARI – as in female name

KARR – Car

KASY – Casey

KAYE

KAYG

KAYO

KBAI – as in Bellingham BAY

KBBX – K-Big Band-X, Station’s format was heavy in big band music

KBCB – BC/Bellingham TV

KBCS – Bellevue Community College Station

KBEH

KBES – Bellevue/Eastside

KBFW – Bellinghan-Ferndale, Washington

KBGE – Bob Gill Enterprises

KBIQ

KBKS – Kiss FM

KBLE – K-Bible

KBLV – Bellevue

KBRC – Beckley Radio Company

KBRD – K-Bird

KBRO – Bremerton RadiO

KBSG – K-BeSt Gold, station’s initial moniker was “K-Best”

KBTB – Keep Busting The Beat

KBTC – Bates Technical College

KBUP

KBVU – Bellevue

KCDI – Carl-Dek Incorporated

KCIF

KCIN

KCIS – Christian Information Seattle

KCMS – Christian Music Seattle

KCMU – abbreviation of the campus’s Communications Building, the station’s home

KCPQ – Clover Park

KCPS – Clover Park Schools

KCTS – King County Television Service

KDDS

KDFL – Daffodil

KDZE – Disney

KEEN

KEJI

KELA – cEntraLiA

KENU – Enumclaw

KENY

KERI – girl’s name, original slogan “Beautiful Carrie”

KETO

KEUT – Cute – Owner had another station with KEWT calls

KEVE – Everett

KEVR – Evergreen – Broadcasters, owners

KEXP – music EXPerience Project

KEZX – Easy 99

KFBL – the call sign corresponded with the timing of the application review and approval by the Department of Commerce – shortly after another famous west coast radio station was assigned its call letters for the first time: KFBK, Sacramento.

KFC – Operated by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer circa early 1921; May 1922-Northern Radio & Electric Company;

KFFV – Forty-Five (TV channel number 45)

KFHA

KFHR

KFKF – Kemper Freeman Kemper Freeman

KFMY

KFNK – Funky Monkey

KFNQ – The FaN

KFOA

KFQX [established in the 1920s, didn’t stand for K-FOX in those days. Origin unknown]

KFRW

KFWY – Federal Way

KGAA – sister station of KGA Spokane

KGB

KGBS

KGCL

KGDI

KGDN – King’s Garden, owners

KGFA

KGFM – King’s Garden FM

KGHP – Gig Harbor Public Schools

KGIB – G-I Broadcasters- Station owned and operated by former military members

KGME

KGMI – Good Music International

KGMJ – “Good music” (K”GM”J) co-owned with KGMI Bellingham (Good Music International)

KGMW – Temporary calls replacing KGNW on 1150, December 1986

KGNW – Good News – the old KAYO switched to a conservative religion format.

KGRG – Green River Gorge

KGTK – Gun Talk

KGY

KHCV

KHHO – H2O

KHIT – K-HIT

KHQ

KHTP – HOT

KILO – Kilo, as in Kilo of marijuana

KINF – Information 1090 (Dial position for previous calls KING)

KING – King County

KIRO – Like KOMO, Saul Haas wanted an easily pronouncable word out of his station call letters

KISM – International Stereo Music

KISW – Seattle Washington

KITI – Kitty

KITN – Kitten

KITZ – Kitsap County

KIXI – 910 [AM] with Roman numerals

KJAQ – Jack FM

KJET – K-Jet

KJR

KJTT – K-JET

KJUN – Cajun

KJZZ – Jazz

KKBW – Brew

KKBY – Cowboy

KKDZ – Kids [Disney]

KKFX – K-FOX

KKMI – Music & Information “My-96”

KKMO – homage to KMO

KKNW – NorthWest

KKOL – homage to KOL

KKP – Seattle POLICE broadcasts [1920s]

KKXA – Homage to the great Seattle call letters KXA

KKZU – Zoo

KLAN

KLAY – Owned by Clay Huntington

KLCK – Click FM

KLDY – K-LaDY

KLFE – K-Life

KLKI – Lucky

KLSN – Listen

KLSY – Klassy

KLTX – K-Lite

KLYN – LYNden, Wa

KMAS – MASon County

KMBX – Off-spelling for “Mix”

KMCQ – K-Mid-Columbia-Q (Station was originally licensed to The Dalles, OR.)

KMCS – Market-CaSters, owners

KMGI – Magic

KMIA – “My” in Spanish

KMIH – Mercer Island High School

KMNT – “Kountry MouNTain”

KMO – The meaning of the call letters is unknown, maybe just random. But a radio station in Kansas City, MO., wanted these call letters and the station in Tacoma would not give them up. KMO/Tacoma was on the air three years before KOMO/Seattle.

KMPS – Compass

KMTT – The Mountain

KMWS – K Mount Vernon Washington State

KMYQ – myQ² MYtv affiliate and alluding to its parent station, KCPQ, which brands as Q13 Fox

KNBQ – Q-97.3

KNBX

KNDD – The End

KNHC – Nathan Hale Collegiate

KNTB

KNTR – News-Talk Radio

KNTS

KNUA – New Age music

KNWR – Northwest Rock

KNWX

KOL

KOMO

KONG – sister staion of King [King Kong]

KOOD

KOQT

KPCB – Pacific Coast Biscuit Company

KPEC – Clover Park Educational Center

KPLK – A translator station for KPLU

KPLU – Pacific Lutheran University

KPLZ – K-Plus

KPMA – Positive Mental Attitude

KPOZ – Positive Talk

KPQ

KPST

KPTK – Progressive TalK

KPTZ – Port Townsend

KPUG – Puget

KPUY – Puyallup

KQBZ – The Buzz

KQDE – Cutie, one of Wally Nelskog’s stations which became KIXI

KQEU

KQIN

KQKT – KQ96

KQLA – Owned by Clay Huntington

KQMV – “Movin'”

KQOW

KQTY – Wally Nelskog’s Cutie station in Everett

KQUL – Cool Oldies with KOOL Oldies Phoenix satellite feed

KQZQ

KRAB – Crab

KREN – Renton

KRFE – Radio Free Everett

KRIZ – Chris Bennett’s Z-Twin anchor station

KRKL – Kirkland

KRKO

KROH – Radio of Hope Nine One One” for its emphasis on assisting Jefferson County’s Emergency Operations Center

KRPA – Radio Punjabi Association

KRPI – Radio Punjab International

KRPM – “I’m going 106 RPM”

KRQI – [Rock] RQ

KRSC – owner Radio Sales Corporation

KRWM – WarM

KRXY – “94.5 Roxy”

KSCR – South County Radio

KSEA – Seattle

KSER – The call letters were selected to reflect Snohomish County, Everett and Radio. S E R.

KSGX – Seattle Generation-X

KSND – K-Sound

KSPL – Special

KSRB – Seattle’s Rhythm & Blues

KSTW – Seattle-Tacoma Washington

KSUH – Suh, owner’s last name

KSVU – Skagit Valley College

KSVR – Skagit Valley Radio

KSWW – South West Washington

KTAC – Tacoma

KTBI – Tacoma Broadcasters Incorporated

KTBK

KTBW – Trinity Broadcasting of Washington

KTCL – Know The Charmed Land

KTGN – Tacoma Good News

KTIX

KTNT – Tacoma News Tribune

KTOL – Tumwater-Olympia-Lacey

KTOY

KTPS – Tacoma Public Schools

KTTH – The Truth

KTVW – K-TV Washington

KTW – Know The Word

KTWB – KTWB-TV (The Warner Brothers Network)

KTWR – Thomas Wilmot Read – owner

KTZZ – the “ZZ” appeared as “22” – it’s TV channel

KUBE – Cube

KUDY – Wally Nelskog continued the Cutie theme, sqitching KQDE call letters to KUDY

KUGS – Cougs

KUJ

KULL – KOOL oldies 770

KUNS – Univision TV Seattle

KUOW – University of Washington

KUPS – University of Puget Sound

KUPY – Puyallup was the COL

KURB – MountLake Terrace, a subURB.

KUSE

KUUU – You

KVGM – Very Good Music (owned by Good Music International KGMI, KGMJ, KISM)

KVI – Vashon Island

KVL

KVOS – Kessler’s Voice Of Seattle

KVRI – Vancouver Radio International

KVSN – ViSioN

KVTI – Vocational Technical Institute

KWDB – WhiDBey [Island]

KWDK – K-Washington’s Daystar-K

KWFJ – Keep Working For Jesus

KWJZ – Washington’s JaZz

KWLE – Whale

KWOG – Word Of God

KWPX – Washington’s PaX [defunct TV network]

KWPZ – Washington’s PraiZe [Praise]

KWWA – Western WAshington

KWYZ – Last letters of alphabet [WxYZ]

KXA

KXIR – Island Radio

KXOT – eXperience Of Tacoma

KXPA – Personal Achievement

KXRN – RentoN

KXRO – owner bootlegger/rumrunner Roy Ohmstead

KXRX – “The X” They tried for “KXXX” calls but these were taken

KXXO – Is there any meaning to the call letters KXXO? Not really – we just liked them. We didn’t realize when we applied for the call letters that we would become Mixx 96.1. – John Foster, Program Director

KYAC

KYCW – Young Country & Western

KYIZ – third of Chris Bennett’s Z-Twins radio

KYNW – NoW

KYPT – the PoinT

KYYO – a substitute for KAYO

KYYX – Kicks

KZAM – “K-ZAM!” as in a magic word

KZAZ

KZC

KZIZ – as in “Sis” Z-Twins sister station

KZJO – for Joe TV

KZOK – for “OK” 102 and a half

KZTS – Z (Tacoma) Spanish



OFF THE AIR
These broadcast stations signed off for the last time, years ago.

660 KFOA Seattle – May 23, 1922 this station signed on as KDZE. At the time, the station was testing equipment, for an hour or so each day they would play a few phonograph records. Certified listener reports from as far as Philadelphia were registered. The station was owned by Rhodes Department Store. The station changed call letter to KFOA in March 1924 and then to KOL when Archie Taft bought the station in 1928.

800 KQIN Burien (KQIZ CP in 1969. Station went on air as KQIN a 500 watt daytimer in October 1970 – Golden Oldies – John Mowbray the owner, and then Beautiful Music [mid 70s, sold to KETO Co., KETO FM, John Mowbray takes 30% ownership of the new company] station format Adult Contemporary in mid-80s, CP in 1985 to move to 820 frequency)
KQIN personalities: Don Chambers, Burl Barer, Steve Wray, Joe Salvatore, Alan Archer, Mark Edwards, R.C. Bannon, Brian Calkins, Bill Fitzhugh, Jay Hemingway, Leilani McCoy, Tom Reddick, Bob [Spinning Bear] Peters, Cedric James, JJ Hemingway, Mike Moran

1400 KTNT Tacoma – MOR/Easy Listening – Tacoma News Tribune
1983-KPMA [bartered programming]

KTNT Personalities: Bob Cleland – News Director, Murray Morgan, Ted Knightlinger, Bill McClain, Gene Lewis, Jerry Holzinger, Bruce Vanderhoof [May 1968, sits in with Al Cummings for one week and then takes over the afternoon drive shift, Cummings continues the morning drive shift], Al Cummings [started May 1967 morning drive and afternoon 4-6pm…1970 hosts an afternoon talk show on 1400 KTNT “The Ombudsman”], Mike Altman, Bob Piatt, Dick Thompson, Don St. Thomas, Glen Brook, Carl Sawyer, Bruce Bond, Roger Pasquier, Bob [Spinning Bear] Peters, Frank Catalano, Bill Doane, Jaynie Jones, Len Higgins, John Burgess, Bob Robertson, Max Bice-Chief Engineer, John Allgood, Ed Dollar, Dewey Boynton, Bob Church, Mike Lonergan, Jerry Dimmitt, Mike Moran


The 1400 frequency is now used by KITZ/Port Orchard as a business/talk affiliate of KGTK 920 AM Olympia, KBNP 1410 AM Portland, and KSBN 1230 AM Spokane. The signal is not heard in the Tacoma area. KITZ personalities: Al Munroe and Fred Miles, Marina Rockinger, Brad Lee, Jeff French, Jerry Van Dyke, Lysa Dufourc

1460 KEVE Everett – KEVE owned by Cascade Broadcasting Co. Inc. existed from 1941-1945 and broadcast with 500 watts and a daily schedule of 6am – 11pm.

1510 KURB [1968] Mountlake Terrace
KKNW call letters were used with the Urban Contemporary format that began on February 8, 1983, after the station had been silent for 6 months. Joel Bernard was PD. June 19, 1984, call letters became KKZU and the format was adult contemporary.
Personalities: Dick Ellingson, Mike Moran, Peter Christiansen, Mike Lonergan, Bill O’Mara

1540 KBVU Bellevue – KBVU existed from 1964-69 before being purchased by Kemper Freeman who wanted to move KFKF off of 1330 where it was stuck with a sunrise-sunset schedule. KBVU broadcast full-time with 1000 watts and I remember it as a jazz station for some of it’s life in the mid-60′s. In 1969, KBVU signed off and KFKF 1540 signed on. [Mike Cherry]

1540 KGIB – Kitsap GI Broadcasters Inc existed from 1950-1954 and broadcast daily from 6am – sunset with 1000 watts [thanks to Mike Cherry for this info]

{Radio Annual 1951]

93.3 KOTO Seattle – original 1962 application by owners of KNBX 1050 Kirkland asked for call sign ‘KOTO’. Eastside Broadcasting also owned KARI 550 Blaine and had an application for 104.3 Bellingham with the KBLE calls issued! 104.3 ended up being KERI and 93.3 KBLE-FM. [Mike Cherry]

102.5 KPRN Seattle – before David Segal successfully launched KTW-FM in 1965, a previous CP was issued to another company in 1963, but never built. Plains Radio Broadcasting had a CP for 19 kW and 1090 ft antenna with KPRN call sign issued. [Mike Cherry]

106.9 KFIN Seattle – KFIN a 1963 CP for 35 kW & 1100 ft antenna owned by Fine Music broadcasters Inc. Yes, this was licensed to Seattle, not Bremerton where KBRO would eventually launch on 106.9 [Mike Cherry]

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1 thought on “CALL LETTER ORIGINS

  1. No W’s….. WBBM “Worlds Best Battery Maker” (Burgess) WLOL “W Land O’ Lakes” (origional licensee)
    WGN “Worlds Greatest Newspsper” (Tribune) WCMP “W Chisago Milaca Pine” (counties in the coverage area)
    WLS “World’s Largest Store” (Sears)
    WCFL “Chicago Federation of Labor” (origional licensee)
    WIND “W Indiana” (transmitter was origionally in Gary IN)
    WFLD ” W Field” (origionally licensed by Marshall Fields)
    WTTW “Window To The World” (Public Television slogan was a contest winner)
    WAUR “W Aurora”

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