KFEC: The Meier & Frank Broadcast Se...

Feedback.pdxradio.com message board: Portland Radio History: KFEC: The Meier & Frank Broadcast Service
Author: Craig_adams
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 12:43 am
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On October 3, 1922 The Radio Division, Bureau of Navigation, U.S. Department of Commerce authorized the construction of station KFEC in Portland Oregon to Meier & Frank Co. (Abraham Meier, President & Julius L. Meier, Vice-President & Store General Manager, later Oregon Governor 1931-35). The Department Store was founded in 1857 by Aaron Meier, with Emil Frank becoming a partner in 1873 and the Store name reflecting the change to Meier & Frank.

KFEC calls were sequentially assigned. The stations broadcast wavelength was 360 meters (832.7 kilocycles) with the power of 50 watts. 360 meters was designated the "entertainment" wavelength. KFEC would share this wavelength with other Portland stations. (KGG, KGN, KGW, KQY, KYG). Wilbur J. Jerman installed the apparatus. He would later build his own station KFWV in 1925. This would become KWJJ in 1927.

On October 19, 1922 KFEC began operation at 9:00 P.M. The one hour inaugural program featured Earl Fuller's New York Jazz Band. Two numbers from vocalist Julie Dawn with Martin Mortensen on piano. Also Tommy Tobin sang with pianist Larry Franklin. KFEC's studio was located on the 5th floor of the Meier & Frank department store building at: 5th, 6th, Morrison & Alder Sts. (now: 621 S.W. 5th Ave.). The studio was separated from the broadcast apparatus "with heavy curtains draped across one end of the room (which) was used as a library and reading room by their store employees." KFEC's antenna was atop the 16 story building.

KFEC's Station Manager was (Bud) Aaron M. Frank (Gerry Frank's father). Aaron Frank was also Asst. Store Manager. KFEC was staffed with store employees. M&F ad: "KFEC, Meier & Frank's radio broadcasting." Earlier in 1922 other stores across the Nation had also made the move into broadcasting. Seattle's "Rhodes Department Store" began KDZE and later KFOA. Boston's "Shepard Department Stores" began WNAB & WNAC. The KFEC broadcast schedule: Musical Entertainment & Features, 4 to 5pm Monday thru. Saturday; Evening Concert, 9 to 10pm Thursdays and a Childrens Hour, 11 to Noon Saturdays.

On October 24, 1922 KYG was dropped from the wavelength and KDYQ was added November 16, 1922. KGW moved to a different wavelength on November 18, 1922. On January 25, 1923 KFEC began broadcasting United States Weather Bureau Reports on 485 meters (618.1 kilocycles), the designated wavelength for "weather" reports. KFEC broadcast a noon report Monday thru. Saturday and continued it's other programming on the "entertainment" wavelength (360 meters). On March 23, 1923 KFFO Hillsboro was added to 360 meters.

On April 1, 1923 KFEC began sharing it's "weather" wavelength with KGW reports at 11:30am & 7:30pm. On May 2, 1923 KQY was dropped from the 360 wavelength & KFFO moved to a different wavelength. On May 3, 1923 KFIF was added (later becoming KBPS). On May 15, 1923 the Radio Division discontinued the wavelength designations and opened up the band from 550kc to 1350kc. KFEC moved it's noon weather report to 360 meters with it's other programming. On May 31, 1923 KGN was dropped from the 360 wavelength. On June 29, 1923 KFEC added a 6:30pm weather report.

On February 17, 1924 the station announced in a Meier & Frank ad: "KFEC has been changed from Class "C" to Class "A" rating and now broadcasts on a 248-Meter Wave Length." (1208.8kc). Since KFEC did not broadcast on Sundays, the first broadcast on 248 meters took place on 2-18-24. By July 1924 KFEC had begun a "lost and found service to aid in locating lost articles and getting in touch with missing persons. All that is necessary is to write KFEC, Meier & Frank Co., printing the names legibly and always giving essential information. The service is free." Slogan: KFEC - The Meier & Frank station.

On July 16, 1924 KFEC moved it's Thursday night Concert to Wednesday's 9 to 10pm. On August 9, 1924 the Saturday "Children's Hour" was canceled. On November 23, 1924 KFEC began sharing time with KFIF. On December 17, 1924 the Wednesday night Concert series was canceled. On June 4, 1925 KFEC moved the 6:30 pm weather to 6:00pm. By September 1926 KFEC was described as playing "canned music" or phonograph music. At the time it was looked upon as being in a grey area since stations were not paying recorded music royalties. Records were easy to obtain, one floor above KFEC. The 6th floor Meier & Frank Music Department had a large selection of 78's.

On November 9, 1926 KFEC began carrying Portland High School conference football games at 3:15pm. On November 12, 1926 KFEC expanded it's broadcast schedule 12 noon to 5pm Monday thru. Saturday playing records. On November 22, 1926 KFEC moved with KFIF to Class "A" 252 meters (1189.6kc). KFEC increased power to 150 watts. On December 20, 1926 KFEC reduced it schedule to Weather Reports at Noon & Records 4 to 5pm, Monday thru. Saturday, less than 7 hours on the air a week. On May 9, 1927 KFEC added Evening Records 6:30 to 7:30pm Monday thru. Saturday.

More to come.

Author: Craig_adams
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 4:28 am
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On May 12, 1927 Meier & Frank Co. won five suits in a radio broadcast patent infringement action by stipulation in U.S. Federal Court. The suits were brought by: Irving Berlin Co., T.B. Harms Co., Leo Feist Co., M. Whitmark & Sons & Shapiro, Bernstreet & Co. Music publishers were arguing they were due royalty payments for all recorded copyrighted music KFEC broadcast. On June 15, 1927 KFEC moved with KFIF to Class "A" 1400kc. KFEC reduced power back to 50 watts. On June 22, 1927 KFEC moved Evening Music, 6 to 7pm. By September 1927 KFEC's call slogan was: Known For Every Courtesy. On November 14, 1927 KFEC expanded its noon weather report with records to 1pm.

On January 11, 1928 KFEC announced it had rebuilt its old transmitter for louder reception and had installed new microphones, plus erected new antenna towers which stood 40 feet above the Meier & Frank electrified sign, atop the store. The station was off the air over a week for the new installations. KFEC broadcast Monday thru. Saturday, three hours a day: Weather & Records, noon-1; Records, 4-5pm; Concert, 6-7pm. On March 1, 1928 KFEC gained full occupancy of 1400kc when KFIF moved to another frequency.

On May 21, 1928 KFEC moved its transmitter site to the Pearl District, atop the new four story Meier & Frank Delivery Depot Building at: 14th & Everett (now: 1417 N.W. Everett St.). A new Western Electric transmitter had been installed. Programs continued from Meier & Frank's 5th floor studio. With the transmitter site move happening just four months after new towers were installed on the Meier & Frank store roof, it's surmised the M&F electrified sign was causing interference and the old rebuilt transmitter wasn't sounding any better.

Also on May 21, 1928 KFEC expanded its schedule 10am to 2pm & 4pm to 7pm Monday thru. Saturday: Request Program, 10am; Meier & Frank Feature Announcements including style & beauty expert, 11am; Popular Music, 11:30am; Luncheon Concert, 12 noon; Weather Reports, 1pm; Request Program, 1:15pm; sign off at 2pm. Studio Concert, 4pm; Book Review, 4:30pm; News & Weather Reports, 5:15pm; Popular Concert, 5:30pm; Meier & Frank Feature Announcements including style & beauty expert, 6pm; Dinner Concert 6:15pm; sign off at 7pm. Slogan: Meier & Frank's own radio station.

On June 18, 1928 KFEC expanded its schedule by one hour with the addition of a Request Program from 3 to 4pm. On June 26, 1928 KFEC debuted a new program called: Advanced Record Releases at 5:15pm. On July 6, 1928 Meier & Frank announced KFEC was available for "the Chief of Police of Portland, the Sheriff of Multnomah County, or other police officials that might desire to use the station in times of a public emergency, or for the quick apprehension of criminals." At the time, no police department in Oregon had their own broadcast station. Portland Police station KGPP wouldn't begin operation until 1932.

On August 6, 1928 KFEC replaced some of its programs, adding Semi Classical Music at 12 noon; Luncheon Concert moved to 1-2pm; Pip Organ at 3pm; Meier & Frank Beauty Talk, 3:30-4pm; Book Chat, 4:30pm; Popular Concert moved to 5-6pm; Dinner Program of Hawaiian Music, 6:15-7pm sign off. On August 21, 1928 KFEC announced plans to re-broadcast shortwave programs from W8XK via KDKA Pittsburg, Penn. & W2XAD, W2XAF via WGY Schenectady N.Y. This idea was never carried out.

On September 10, 1928 KFEC debuted: News & Weather at 12:50-1pm; Symphony Music at 6pm; New York Stock Quotations at 6:45-7pm sign off. By October 1928 (Sid) Sidney L. Goodwin (formerly KTBR Chief Announcer) was Program Manager & Sports Announcer. On November 11, 1928 KFEC moved to Class "A" 1370kc. On November 20, 1928 KFEC operator, Edward C. McKeown was burned slighty around his hand when a wire held by him fell across a 1,000-volt line causing a short circuit and taking KFEC off the air for an hour and a half.

On November 23, 1928 KFEC expanded its schedule to midnight. The new programs were: Santa Claus (M&F's Santa?) 6:30pm; Musical Comedy Gems, 7pm; Semi Classical Music, 8pm; The Personality Boys, 9pm; Popular Concert, 9:30pm; Amos N' Andy (This was the first airing of the program in Portland, syndicated by WMAQ) 10-10:15pm; Dance Music; 10:15-midnight sign off. Also debuting on the daytime schedule was: Studio Concert, noon-1. In addition KFEC carried Buckaroo Hockey & High School football games. Slogan: KFEC, The Meier & Frank broadcast service.

On February 1, 1929 KFEC was shut down when the station was sold to A.E. Kern & Co. (Albert E. Kern, President). Then on February 4, 1929 KFEC began operation again when the sale was called off by Meier & Frank Co. it is believed. M&F it's alleged, found out A.E. Kern & Co. was publisher of the aryon leaning German language "Nachrichten" weekly newspaper. KFEC continued on the air with a shortened schedule. 4pm to 7pm Monday thru. Friday & Noon to 7pm Saturday's, without the "Amos N' Andy" program. No other Portland station picked up this mostly unknown series at the time.

Amos N' Andy became part of the eastern NBC Blue Network schedule on August 19, 1929. Under special arrangements, the program began airing on the Orange chain, NBC's Pacific Coast Network and heard over KGW at 8:30pm beginning on November 28, 1929. By 1931 Amos N' Andy had become a national phenomenon with nearly 40 million listeners. In 1935 Amos N' Andy moved to the NBC Red Network. On April 3, 1939 the program moved to CBS and KOIN. Now back to the KFEC history.

On March 20, 1929 KFEC signed off the air again when the station was acquired by Carl E. Haymond, owner of KMO Tacoma, Wash. (Sale on 3-18-29). Mr. Haymond intended to move the station to Yakima, Wash. On March 22, 1929 KFEC calls were changed to KIT. On April 9, 1929 KIT Yakima began operation on KFEC's old frequency, 1370kc with 50 watts of power. (FRC licensed KIT on 5-10-29). So ends Meier & Frank's venture into broadcasting, where it's evident that service to the community was their prime motivation.

A Special Thanks to: Gerry Frank & Ron Kramer for their invaluable assistance in this radio history.

Author: Stoner
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 6:46 am
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Business Journal reported yesterday that MACYS will make gigantic cuts into the Oregonian buy and more their ad dollars to radio & TV. I guess a marketing genius discovered that 18-40 yr olds don't pick it up. Remember when Fred Meyer pulled out of the Oregon Journal? That was it for that paper. I predict that all major newspapers will be free within 5 years. That way they can show deeper readership. Newspapers are in major trouble all around the country.

Author: Rogertoo
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 7:00 am
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Where will it end?

What's next Free radio? free TV?

Author: 62kgw
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 8:42 am
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Macy's (M&F) also changes names of many various old dept stores in many cities across the country as of today. Obviously that makes it easier to do nationwide TV advertizing.

Author: Missing_kskd
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 8:54 am
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Stoner, that's a bad trend.

Frankly, I think the newspaper still has a lot of value. It's not ever going to be as real-time as electronic media sources are, but it will always counter with portability and permanence.

The biggie right now is not the medium, it's the credence it carries. For a long time, the expectation was that printed media had a lot of credence and value. Printing costs money, so the words must be worthy of actually printing. By contrast the Internet is free, and anyone can publish.

There is no reason why this expectation should not continue, unless the printed words really don't have as much value as they otherwise could have.

IMHO, going forward there will be two kinds of newspapers:

those free ones that never did learn the lesson of solid information


those that do and continue to be worth a subscription or purchase to read.

Guess we will see how it all shakes out.

Author: Kq4
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 9:30 am
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Oh, and wonderful job as usual Craig!

Author: Notalent
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 9:33 am
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Knowing the way newspapers operate I think instead of making them free they will try to make up their lost ad revenu from readers... I predict we will see $2.00 daily newspapers in 5 years...

Of course that doesn't work but it amazing the number of business people who try to make up for lost sales by raising the price instead of actually addressing the reason for the lost sales.

Author: Missing_kskd
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 9:39 am
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No kidding!

We see this over and over, yet they still do it. Amazing and very true.

Sorry Craig, your history posts are great as always! Often makes me wish I could go back for a while...

Author: Washnotore2
Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 9:48 pm
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Once again Craig great job. This time it was a Friday Surprise. In Portland radio history.

Author: Craig_adams
Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 3:26 am
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Thanks! I've had the KFEC history in the bag for 5 months, waiting to post at this time. Thought this would be the best time to present a redo of the Meier & Frank radio station (first posted in 2001).

I've been working 100 percent on the KXL history for months now. It's coming along but the time span on KXL makes for a long research job. KFEC was 7 years, where KXL is 80 years!

While researching KXL in "The Portland Telegram" newspapers, which by the way are not on microfilm and are very fragile to handle. Found information not seen in "The Oregonian" or "Journal" newspapers on KFEC. That got me thinking, I should not only document the M&F station information but redo the entire history now and post at the end of Meier & Frank era.

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