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Iowa History Daily: April 15 - WHO Radio is LIVE! on the Air

Iowa History Daily: On April 15, 1924, WHO-AM Des Moines went live on 570kHz and 500 watts. When a 50,000 watt transmitter started pumping out airwaves in early 1933 the “All Things Iowa!” station brought iconic personalities, programming, news, and sports to homes throughout the state.

Started under the ownership of Bankers Life (now Principal), Company President George Kuhns gets credit for choosing the call-letters on the premise “at the time people searching the radio dial for stations would ask ‘who is it?’” The first studios and transmitters sat atop the Liberty Building at 418 Sixth Avenue in Des Moines, and used the song “Who” from the musical “Sunny” as the station’s theme.

The station grew over the course of the late-1920s, first moving to 1,000 and then 5,000 watts while becoming an official affiliate of NBC on September 27,1927. The station moved from the Liberty Building to the Stoner Building at 914 Walnut Street in April 1932, and construction started on a Mitchellville transmitter site featuring a 750’ wire antenna and the ability to push out 50,000 watts.

Over the years, Iowans’ sentiments for the station grew to echo iconic Hawkeye announcer Jim Zabel’s cries of “I love it! I love it! I love it!” Jack Shelley, Roy Fox, Lee Kline, Van Harden, and others enchanted generations of Iowans Even future President of the United States Ronald Reagan worked as a sports announcer for the powerhouse during the 1930s. #IowaHistoryCalendar #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD


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