After the war, Redeker got his amateur radio license and continued the classes, this time broadcasting on station 7YA starting in December 1919. The student station eventually began broadcasting music and speech, thanks to improved equipment and technology.
On July 18, 1922, radio station KFAU was first licensed, thus today’s anniversary. It started broadcasting on July 20.
There wasn’t a lot of competition on the radio dial, so the station had some impact. On July 30, 1922, the Idaho Statesman reported that listeners could clearly hear the station in Kuna, Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, Payette, Weiser, and Ontario. Some reported hearing it in Twin Falls and St. Anthony. Listeners heard live music performed by local musicians, religious broadcasts, and a speech by Sen. William Borah.
Under Redeker’s guidance and with community support the station grew, increasing its power to 4,000 watts during the day and 2,000 watts at night in 1926. Daytime production was handled by Boise High School students, while the Boise Chamber of Commerce took over at night. Notably, the Chamber also began financing the radio station.
By 1927 the station had become so popular that there was pressure on the school board to sell KFAU so that it could become Idaho’s first commercial station. The Idaho Statesman, which had run dozens of articles and program listings over the years, was making plans of its own to start a commercial radio station, though those plans never reached fruition.
With increasing controversy over the fate of the station, some of the fun had gone out of the project for Harry Redeker. He took a job in California.
In September, 1928, KFAU was sold to Curtis G. Phillips and Frank Hill. The call letters changed to KIDO in November of 1928. From that time forward, Phillips went by the nickname “Kido.”
KIDO still broadcasts from Boise today, although that studio in Boise High School, shown in the photo and inset below, is long gone.
Thanks to Art Gregory and the History of Idaho Broadcasting Foundation, Inc. for their help on this story.