In 1967, Scobey, Montana was a small rural town, with a population of about 1400. To this day, the total land area of the town is less than a square mile. Yet Larry Bowler saw potential for this small community and petitioned the FCC for an FM radio station. In March of 1969, the FCC finally responded to the petition, assigning “a channel (239) on 95.7 megacycles upon which to establish a radio station…” By 1969, Bowler began forming the public corporation, Prairie Communications, Inc., which was officially formed by July, 1969.
“This new station will provide a daily communications media over the area which heretofore has been lacking. Moreover, it is essential that this sttion be owned and operated by people living in the area, in order to pursue intelligently the best interests of the area, in the public interest.”
– Larry C. Bowler, Daniels County Leader, March 13, 1969
More than a year later, the FCC finally granted the official permits to build a radio station:
“The Federal Communications Commission… on Wednesday, Sept. 2 (1970)… granted a permit for construction of a new Class C (the best) FM radio 60,000 watt station at Scobey to Prairie Communications, Inc… further authorizing erection of a tower for the antenna slightly in excess of 400 feet at a site on the hills east of Scobey, and studios downtown.”
– Daniels County Leader, Sept 10, 1970
The Call Letters
The original selected call letters for this station were KOBY, but was nixed sometime in 1970 when it was discovered KOBY was already taken. The letters KCGM were requested and became official by November, 1970. K is required as the first letter for all radio stations west of the Mississippi River (whereas W is required for those east of the Mississippi.) C stands for cattle, G for grain, and M for minerals. Although a requirement, today, the letter K represents kids.
Largest of it’s kind..
As of September, 1970, PCI’s plans for a new radio station, and it’s 400-ft transmitter tower (expected to transmit 60,000 watts horizontal and vertical) made this the largest radio station of its kind in the state of Montana (at the time.)
Although arriving late, due to a “shipping foul-up,” the 400-ft transmitter tower was finally erected n the early months of 1971, on the tallest hill, east of Scobey. In late March of that year, equipment testing began, and people could hear the first signals emitting from the brand spanking new transmitter tower. Transmitting at 52,000 watts horizontal and vertical (less than originally intended,) KCGM was still “newest and farthest reaching radio station of its kind in Montana and surrounding areas.”
Meanwhile, before the station could official take over the airways, they had to wait for the FCC go-ahead. Finally, after several years in the making, with FCC approval, KCGM officially went on the air on Monday, June 21, 1971.