Commercial radio came to Colorado and the metro area 100 years ago this year, March 10, 1922. While listening habits have changed greatly and there are many options for getting news and entertainment, radio is still a daily part of most people’s lives.
If you grew up here, you might know that from 1954 to 1984 Edgewater was a part of radio history with 95 KIMN, a hugely successful Top 40 AM radio station. Long-time residents tell stories of hanging out near the old studios on 20th and can even name many of the disc jockeys of days gone by. However few people know that KIMN wasn’t Edgewater’s first radio station, and that we played a role in radio’s early days.
In 1926, 19-year-old Rex Howell bought KFXJ radio, after the prior owner was electrocuted while working on a radio tower. Rex had worked in radio since he was 14, including at KFEL, the station that would move to Edgewater decades later and become KIMN. One of the requirements when he bought the station was that he had to license it to a city that didn’t already have a radio station, so he couldn’t license it in Denver. The closest option he could find to Denver was Edgewater, and he broadcast from a home here until moving the station to Grand Junction in 1931. Rex would later put KREX TV on the air in Grand Junction and would become the first president of the Colorado Broadcasters Association.
In May 1954 radio returned to Edgewater, when KFEL was sold and changed call letters to KIMN (representing the Inter-Mountain Network of stations). Though licensed to Denver, the station broadcast from studios on the south side of 20th Avenue where the Edgewater Marketplace is now. KIMN would become the top-rated station in the area for years. In 1961, the station was bought by Ken Palmer, who was a promotional genius. When competitors would give away a car, he’d have KIMN give away a car lot. When one of KIMN’s many competitors would do a ticketed concert from a second-tier act, Palmer and KIMN would do a free show from a top act, like the Beach Boys (who were huge in the early ‘60s). KIMN brought the Beatles to Red Rocks, and while that show wasn’t free, it was only $6.60. When the Beatles didn’t come to Denver on their second tour, KIMN chartered a plane and flew listeners to see them in St. Louis. KIMN would later add an FM sister station which played soft rock and later changed call letters to KYGO FM. KYGO is now a successful country station.
KIMN and KYGO left Edgewater in 1984, moving to brand new studios on Monaco Parkway in Denver. Within four years, 95 KIMN would change formats to country as KYGO AM. It would have a string of call letters and formats, including the original Sportsradio 950 the FAN. But for 30 years, as KIMN, the station was a market leader broadcasting from Edgewater. Many of the personalities from KIMN are in the Broadcast Pioneers of Colorado Hall of Fame.
A display case honoring the history of radio in Edgewater is on the second floor of the Civic Center, and in the coming months we’ll be hosting an audio/visual program with sound and pictures from the golden era of radio in Edgewater. If you have memories of Edgewater’s radio stations, please email your stories to SConklin@EdgewaterCO.com.
Contact Edgewater Councilmember Conklin at SConklin@EdgewaterCO.com.