KID AM radio, a mainstay in Idaho broadcasting for more than 90 years, was put out of business by a careless farmer.
First, the history. KGIO radio went on the air in Idaho Falls in December 1928, one of Idaho’s earliest stations. Just two months later, the company adopted the call letters KID. It was the leading radio station in Idaho Falls for decades. Their slogan was “The KID with a punch!” The format was classic “something for everybody,” with different kinds of music at different times of day, radio theater programs, and interviews.
KID, 590 on the dial, was a part of my early life because my folks listened to it. I remember Early Bird Bob Burtenshaw and “Higham and Eggs” with Leo Higham. Years later, I worked with Leo on another Idaho Falls radio station for about a year, and I also met Early Bird Bob when I filled in once for the DJ who followed his shift. I did a few fill-ins on the weekends but never worked full-time for the station. BTW, Bob Burtenshaw served as a legislator in the Idaho House. I’m now serving in the Idaho Senate, but our paths never crossed again.
Jack Sunday, fellow Firth-ite and my best friend, was on the air there when the Teton Dam broke in 1976. In the late 60s, he and I wasted away many nights of our youth listening to Bill Hatch on his late-night program, Beat. To get the full impact of the name, imagine the word Beat coming out of your radio in a descending echo, followed by “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Also, imagine that Hatch had about the world’s deepest voice and had reverb on the mic all night long.
In recent years KID AM ran a talk radio format, like so many AM radio stations.
But KID’s history came to an end in November of 2021. That’s when a farmer plowing a field accidentally cut a guy wire to one of the station's towers. The tower collapsed without anyone getting hurt. The transmitter and towers were on leased ground. The station’s owner, Rich Broadcasting, put in an insurance claim for the damage, only to find out the owner of the property—the farmer—had already received a settlement for damage from his insurance company. Rich Broadcasting prepared to sue. Meanwhile, the landowner knocked down the other two towers and leveled the transmitter building because the lease had run out.
All that put KID’s license in jeopardy because they were unable to broadcast. Rich Broadcasting calculated that putting the station back on the air might cost as much as $2 million. AM radio stations are no longer the gold mine they once were, relegated to the basement of broadcasting. It would take selling a lot of 30-second spots to recoup that amount of money. In February, 2023, Rich Broadcasting surrendered the license for KID AM, bringing an end to some 93 years of broadcast history in Eastern Idaho.