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KISN was an AM radio station licensed for Vancouver, Washington but based in Portland, Oregon, broadcasting on 910 kHz and licensed for 5,000 directional watts. During the 1960s and early 1970s, KISN was not only the number one rated rock station in the market (the station followed a Top 50 playlist), but at times also rated as Portland's most popular radio station. Originally KVAN, it flipped format to Top 40 and became KISN from 1959 until 1976, when the FCC forced it to shut down.
KVAN came on the air in 1939 on 880 kHz and moved to 910 kHz in 1941, owned by Sheldon F. Sackett; by 1958 it was licensed for 1,000 watts and was co-owned with KVAN-TV, a TV station under construction for channel 21.
When KVAN was a country and western station in the early 1950s, Willie Nelson was one of the DJs. He financed his own first single, "No Place For Me"; the record was backed with "Lumberjack" written by Leon Payne, who was also a DJ. KVAN was sold by Sheldon F. Sackett to Don W. Burden, and control transferred to Burden's company, Star Broadcasting, Inc.
KISN started broadcasting at 6 a.m. on May 1, 1959. In the previous 24 hours before its incarnation, the station continuously played "Teenage Bill of Rights" by Robby John and the Seven-Teens, which featured the words "Should we start a revolution? (Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)". The new station continued broadcasting from above a furniture store in Vancouver until its Kisn Corner studio at West Burnside and 10th Streets in Portland started service at 6 a.m. on November 28, 1959. Though the FCC continued to recognize the station as being located in Vancouver, the original transmitter was actually located in North Portland at Smith Lake. It was later relocated to 4615 NE 158th Avenue east of the Portland Airport with wattage expanded to 5,000 directional watts.
Within one year after beginning operations, KISN was Portland's top rated station. During one rating book in 1963, the station held a whopping 86% of the audience. Their promotions included a billboard at the airport exit proclaiming "While you've been away, we've been KISN your wife!" Among the many station jingles used was "Yours truly KISN radio." Later jingles included "The Mighty 91", "Good Guy Territory", and the short-lived "Have a happy day!"
KISN also offered Portland the unique KISN Carol Tree, whose red, blue, and green bulbs flashed to the music being played, and the KISN Aerocar, a unique combination car and plane used for traffic reports.
The station had numerous problems with the Federal Communications Commission over the years, including problems with city of license identification and the studio location, which was mostly caused by Burden's trying to associate KISN as more of a station connected to Portland rather than the city's neighbor across the Columbia River. Kisn Corner was considered a remote studio. Overnight and weekend programming, plus some weekday newscasts, usually took place at the transmitter.
In 1970, following a complaint from disgruntled former disc jockey Paul Oscar Anderson, the FCC refused to renew Star Broadcasting's broadcast licenses, citing political partisanship in the U.S. Senate campaign of Mark Hatfield on KISN. After deciding to issue the licenses again in 1973, the FCC refused renewal again in 1975. After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case in May of 1976, the FCC denied KISN's request to stay on the air, and the FCC was on hand to insure that KISN was taken off the air at the end of September 2, 1976, going so far as to require that the station broadcast their final program directly from the transmitter site. Star stations in Omaha and Indianapolis also went off the air.
After evening air personality Dave "Records" Stone said "Good night from the KISN Good Guys", the station was not even allowed to complete its last song, the Supremes "Someday We'll Be Together", going silent at 12:01 AM PDT.
Famous KISN On-Air Personalities
Several well-known radio personalities passed through the KISN studios including "The Real" Don Steele, who in 1964 ran a presidential campaign from Portland's Steel Bridge wearing an Uncle Sam costume, Tiger Tom Murphy, later known as The World Famous Tom Murphy, who usually handled evenings, Mike Phillips, who later programmed stations in Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Ken Chase, who owned a nightclub called The Chase and was also the manager of its house band, The Kingsmen, Roger Hart, who managed Paul Revere and the Raiders, Australian-born Rod "Kangaroo" Muir, who would later launch Australia's Triple M Network, Tom Michaels, long-time spokesman for Fred Meyer stores, Roger W. Morgan, Buddy Scott, newsmen Whitey Coker and William R. Hatch, Bob Noonan, Steve Randall, Jeff Michaels, who would later anchor news with ABC Radio, Dave "Records" Stone, a local boy influenced by Steele, and Pat Pattie, who save for a brief period in the early 70s was the all-night personality from 1962 to the end. All of his shows were broadcast from the transmitter.
KISN Returns on the Worldwide Web
In Spring 2009, surviving staff members celebrated 50 years since KISN first went on the air. Stone (AKA Dave Rogaway) would continue to keep KISN and Portland history alive with his popular daily internet production called "The Stumptown Blogger.
On January 1, 2010, Stone announced plans to revive KISN. His efforts and those of good friend "Dirty Dave the Record Slave," station historian Craig Adams, and technician Scott Young would lead to KISN returning as an online radio station. Officially titled the "KISN Good Guys" and located at http://goodguyradio.com, the new KISN features the voices of some of the original station's more popular personalities including Morgan, Murphy, Hart, Stone, and Pattee, plus Major Logan, Adams, Randall, Jim Cassidy, and newsman Hatch.
The station returned to the airwaves with much fanfare at 7:00PM PST on February 24, 2012. The "oldies" format features the record collection of "Dirty Dave," said to number over 100,000. As is noted throughout the broadcast day, the station does not follow a limited playlist which had become common with corporate ownership of current commercial station. Within weeks, the online "KISN" had accumulated thousands of listeners not just in the Portland, Vancouver market, but had gained listeners from all over the world.
Later stations with similar identities
The 910 kHz frequency at Vancouver, Washington was reused by another station (KKSN) starting around August 1980;, identifying itself as KISN and playing an oldies format. That station has had various call signs, briefly regaining the KKSN moniker in 2005 before it became KTRO in 2007.
1550 kHz, also at Vancouver, Washington, carried the KVAN callsigns at least twice, from 1981 to 1989 and 1991 to 2003, and is now KKOV. 106.5 KLMI at Rock River, Wyoming was KVAN (FM) for a few months in 2005. Since 2006, KVAN has been 1560 kHz at Burbank, Washington. KVAN-FM has been using its callsign from 2007 to 2010 for 92.1 MHz at Pilot Rock, Oregon.
In 1988, KKSN-FM, 97.1 MHz at Portland, Oregon, started broadcasting golden oldies with the same "kissin'" pronunciation of the station name. Dave "Records" Stone, the last of the original KISN disc jockeys, broadcast a Saturday specialty oldies program that included air checks from the original station plus unlimited presentations of "forgotten 45s" by his friend and assistant, Dirty Dave the Record Slave. The FM station (now KYCH-FM) changed to an adult hits format in 2005. The oldies format would return to KKSN-AM until its final demise in 2007. The last moments of Stone's original 1976 farewell - "Good Night, from the KISN Good Guys!" - was used to close this station.
City of License: Vancouver, Washington
Area of Coverage: Portland (Oregon) Metropolitan Area
Frequency: 910 kHz
Power: 5,000 Directional Watts
On-Air Date as KVAN: 1939 (at 880 kHz until 1941)
On-Air Date as KISN: 5/1/1959
Off-Air Date: 9/2/1976
Format: Top 40
Branding: 91-derful KISN, Yours Truly KISN, The Mighty 91
Owner: Don W. Burden
Licensee: Star Broadcasting
Sister Stations: KOIL Omaha, WIFE Indianapolis
- Gerald Gaule (ed.). "KISN AM 91-wonderful Tribute Page (1959-76)". Archived from the original on 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
- web.etk.edu/gallant/radio-surveys/kisn.html -selected KISN Top 50 surveys from 1966–1970
- Stanford, Phil (February 27, 2007). "Time to kiss KISN goodbye, again". Portland Tribune. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
- "Radio Stations". Broadcasting Yearbook (1958 ed.). Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. p. A-392.
- "Tv Stations". Broadcasting Yearbook (1958 ed.). Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. p. A-120.
- "Old Seattle Radio Saturday: "we've been kisn your wife"". BlatherWatch. December 5, 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
- Portland Tribune, February 22, 2012; Article "Some Day We'll Be Together"
- "FCCInfo Search Results: 5 Records Formerly Holding Call Sign KVAN". FCCInfo.com. Manassas, Virginia: Cavell Mertz & Associates, Inc. 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- "Search by Old Broadcast Call Sign (since 1980)". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
- "Jacor plans to exchange S.L.'s K-Buck for KISN-AM". The Deseret News. August 21, 1997. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
- "Get ready, reset". The Deseret News. December 26, 2003. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
- Real Oldies Radio | KISN Good Guys
- KISN AM 91-wonderful Tribute Page (1959-76) — a lot of text about 910 collected on one page
- Time Machine: May 6, 2006 episode — features first-day airchecks and other KISN recollections
- Portland Top 40 Chronology — mostly about KISN, including jingles, pamphlets, and airchecks