KIMN's history begins on the "4th of July", 1922, signing on as KFEL. The owner was Captain W.L. Winner. Authorized power was 50 watts, which probably covered Denver just fine in those days. It was known as "The Arogonaut Station".
KFEL's first paid advertiser was Elitch Gardens' Amusement Park. KFEL could boast of having one of Colorado's first FM's, KFEL 97.3 FM in 1950.
Captain Winner sold the station to his partner, Eugene P. O'Fallon, who, in 1954 sold it to A.L. Glasmann who changed the call sign to KIMN, as the flagship station for the "Inter-Mountain Network".
Ken Palmer, owner of KYSN in Colorado Springs since 1958, bought KIMN in 1960, with partners John Hunter and Bobby Donner, and continued the stations dominance throughout the sixties. About 1963, part ownership was granted to Tom Duggan, the National Sales Manager, Tom Jones, local Sales Manager as well as News Director Don Martin. The ownership group was known as KIMN Broadcasting.
The talent was legendary as well as sometimes flamboyant. Pogo Poge jumping a pogo stick to Boulder, broadcasting from a snake pit (he got bitten), or from atop a flagpole. Roy "The Bellboy" Gunderson jumping on a trampoline while on the air. Steve Kelley sitting in every seat at Mile High Stadium or visiting every phone booth in the city. Jay Mack with his bizarre little characters: Betty Jo Bioloski, Niles Lischness and Farley McCloot.
Palmer knew that to compete for advertising dollars, he would have to build a station that appealed to more than teens. The KIMN News department was a dominant force in local radio... a position it held for most of it's run. (See more about the News department in the Photo section).
With 5,000 daytime watts and 1,000 at night, KIMN could be heard in New Mexico, Nebraska and South Dakota. At one time, the station claimed more listeners in Cheyenne, Wyoming than any local station there.
It is a Denver radio legend that, in the mid 60's, KIMN overwhelmed the competition with a 56 share of the audience.
Palmer sold the station in 1970 along with another station it owned in Portland. KIMN was purchased by Pacific and Southern Broadcasting of Atlanta for more than $6 million, outbidding Rio Grande Industries, Inc of Denver. Soon after, a major housecleaning took place. Gone were such names as Don Martin, Danny Davis, Jay Mack and Ross Reagan. Pacific and Southern had rather frivolous news policies which tended to emphasize the trivial and slight major developments. Pacific and Southern sold KIMN to Jefferson-Pilot Broadcasting, a holding company based in Greensboro, NC. KIMN was its first acquisition outside of North Carolina and Virginia.
Shortly before the sale, General Sales Manager John J. McGuinness was named General Manager. Among his first actions was to bring in News Director Jackson Kane from San Francisco to re-establish and "add a serious dimension to KIMN's news". In Kanes' words, "let's just say we're a news organization and not circus clowns" (Denver Post-June 7, 1973).
The new owner, Jefferson Pilot brought back the KIMN sound and the Denver Tiger regained it's position in Denvers's Top 40 wars. McGuinness resigned in December of 1976 and was replaced by Hal Widsten who held the post into 1978. KIMN's sound evolved into "Adult Contemporary" as the format for the 80's. The Tiger fought off challengers for years untill fragmentation of the rock format plus the migration of listeners to the FM band became too much of a hurdle.
Due to drastic hits in the ratings (the Fall '87 Arbitron ratings showed KIMN in 15th place with a 2.7 audience share)... translating to loss of revenue, KIMN ceased to exist in April of 1988. GM Wayne Phillips goes down in history as the one who "pulled the plug". 950 on the AM dial became a country station, KYGO-AM at noon on April 26, 1988.
950 AM is now home to all sports station KKFN, "the Fan", still a Jefferson Pilot Station.
The "Denver Tiger"... "Boss Radio" "The Much More Music Station", "Radio One in Denver" The "Best Show in Denver"... the Rocky Mountain regions heritage Top 40 station was no more. Ken Palmers popularity as owner in the 60's might best be guaged by the last words broadcast on KIMN... "thank you Ken Palmer".
Could KIMN have survived in a reincarnation as did "Yours Truly-KOMA" 1520 AM in Oklahoma City? KOMA switched to country, then big band before returning as a currently hugely popular AM/FM combo oldies station. Editorially speaking... 60's rock & roll was made for and seems to sound better out of an AM radio.
The call letters "KIMN" have resurfaced twice, although neither has any connection to the original KIMN. First, briefly in the early '90's in Ft Collins, Colorado at 107.9 FM and most recently have returned to Denver. KIMN-FM "KIM 100" began as an "All-70's" format but then dropped the format for "Today's Hits/Yesterdays Favorites" and most recently is known as "MIX-100".
KIMN had so much history. You knew it when you walked into the new studios on Monaco Parkway. The west wall of the lobby featured a huge mural with photographs from KIMN's heyday. That, of course, was the problem. KIMN's hey-day had long since gone. I think we all knew it, well before the decision was made to sign off KIMN and replace it with a country format. Oh, we hoped it could continue, and it did continue longer than almost all the other Top-40 legends. Long before KIMN left the air, WABC, WRKO and WLS were doing Talk. KLIF and KSTP were doing News-Talk. KOMA was playing country. WHB and KIOA were doing oldies, but just as shells of what they had been. KHJ was long since gone. KAAY had gone all-religion. KIMN may well have been the last of the Top-40 giants to hang on with a mix of hit music and news on AM.
I was there for KIMN's last 2 years, and the station sounded good, very good. The owners had invested a lot, hiring top personalities, a large news staff and approving large promotional budgets, but KIMN was playing music on AM. It had evolved from pure Top-40 to what really amounted to a young-adult, full service radio station. Still, it was on AM, and most young adults were listening to FM. There were some aggressive moves in that last year, moves aimed at keeping KIMN viable - hiring an additional news reporter, hiring Don Hawkins and pairing him with Paxton Mills in the morning, hiring "Da Boogieman" to do his popular oldies show at night, launching a major advertising campaign complete with updated logo. Still, it was on AM.
For me, the 2 years at KIMN provided the highest "high" and the lowest "low" of my 17 years in radio. "High" because I was doing something I had dreamed of while growing up in the Midwest - doing radio in Denver. In Denver, I had the privilege of being at an excellent radio station with a facility and staff that were second to none. "Low" because I was there at the end. I vividly remember the day when we department managers learned the end was imminent. For me then, the dream was shattered. True, it was just a radio station, but the end of KIMN meant more than just the end of a radio station. We loved that station, but it hurt even more because of what that station represented: a format that gave radio its hey-day, a format that caused me and many others to burn with a passion for radio. Although KIMN had evolved from a pure Top-40 format, when "95 Fabulous KIMN" died, so did the format. It was good radio. Top-40 was fun, exciting and creative. I'm glad I grew up with it. I am thankful it sparked a passion that resulted in several good years in the radio industry. I am thankful that I had a part, even just a very small part, in the history of one of Top-40's legends, KIMN.
Thank you Ken Palmer. Thank you Todd Storz, and Gordon McClendon, and all the others who gave us Top-40.
Thanks for the memories.
St. Joseph, Missouri
When KIM went on a promotion, the whole town followed. I remember Dave Diamond's frustration at KBTR, when, no matter what he did, he couldn't take anything away from 950, including giving away entire record libraries. According to rumor, he got in his cups one night and when over to Adkins' house and cursed him for about 30 minutes, around 2 in the morning.
When Tony Lamonica and I rolled in, we couldn't believe the set up. I mean, who ever heard of a News Director flying a quarter million dollar plane for drive time traffic reports!? (Is that all he does? Man, what a gig!) Then to have four mobile news cruisers that looked more police like than the Denver PD cars, was a kick! Tony was in seventh heaven! The newsroom was, at the time, space age; clocks set for different time zones, tickers and wires...!
Ken Palmer was as big a kid as anyone and could be talked into buying the damndest things. I remember they bought a Hovercraft, shaped like a flying saucer and he spent more time trying to master the sucker than anyone on staff.
It was a little disconcerting when the hot acts and talent would come to the station. A great many did, Moody Blues, Sonny & Cher, Beach Boys (we hosted their appearance at the old Elitch Gardens)..even Patti Page and they all stared through the window while you were trying to be vvveeerrrry good. Patti and Ken Palmer used to date pretty heavilly.
Don Martin chewed my ass one day, during the fire at the K-Mart. The whole building was going up, he was flying over it, doing reports and had his news cruisers at all four corners, doing round robin drops. He threw it to one of the cruisers, who wasn't paying attention and we had a bunch of dead air. Having had the message impressed on me that we NEVER HAVE DEAD AIR, I went back to music, at which time the two- way leaped off the table and went for my privates, while Don Martin screamed, "Don't ever do that again. I'LL TELL YOU WHEN TO GO BACK TO MUSIC, YOU *&%#$@*&%! Needless to say, neither I or the newman messed up, again. Martin did apologize later for blowing up but said he would kill me if I ever did it again, letting me live because I hadn't been there that long. Don was also the master showman and a damn good newsman. Many was the time he assisted the local p.d. with reports from the air on a situation developing on the ground. Like the day he followed a car with a couple of guys who had just robbed a store, doing reports live, while the cops listened and took his direction to the fleeing car, which by that time, had gone nose first into a river.
There was a large picture window between the on-air studio and the news room. During one of the construction periods, when they were upgrading the facility, the workmen had left scaffolding up on the newsroom side, the walk board running from one end of the window to the other, exactly through the middle, so that anyone walking on it would be seen only from the waist down. Having been admonished more than once about losing your cool on the air and do something, like laugh, especially when being 'announcerish and reading a commercial', guys wold go out of their way to try and crack you up. I understand Hal Moore was on the air, right in the middle of a 60 second commercial live read, when some unidentified miscreant, nude from the waist down, walked slowly across the board in the window, pausing to do a bump and grind. Hal saw this figure out of the corner of his eye and did his damndest not to lose it but, to no avail. Never found out who that was but nothing was said to Hal. Maybe Adkins wasn't listening!? Audience knew nothing other than Hal was having the time of his life.
It was something special, although I didn't realize the import at the time, of being part of the Boss Jock crew at a giant like KIM, during the heyday of rock 'n roll.
From Stu Evans KIMN 80's
Casey Kasem comes in for our Walkathon circa 1986. We all go out to the buffalo steak place near Evergreen. Was it El Rancho? He announces that he is a strict vegetarian. Bunny and I volunteer to drive Casey back to the Doubletree, but on this cold, rainy night, I get lost in the luxurious old LeMans, almost run out of gas, and get him back to the room about midnight.
Haven't heard from him since, but I still throw on that "Dead Dog Dedication" tape every now and then.
Bogart, Kilgore, Randy, Paxton, Scott, Jacque, Rhonda, Doogie, Ted, Steve, Jenkins, Lee, John, Man Mountain, Rhetta, Bill, Karson, Gloria, Keeney, et al.....
With love and deepest respect for all of the troup that was "The Best Show in Denver",
"Big Shoe" Stu, for the past eleven years on KMLE Country 108, Phoenix)
Jay Mack Magazine Article