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RADIO | Happy Birthday, SPR 

Culture Digest

click to enlarge Spokane Public Radio's future home, a historic firehouse on North Monroe.
  • Spokane Public Radio's future home, a historic firehouse on North Monroe.

The original KPBX (91.1 FM) was born in the basement of a South Hill home, where it operated throughout much of the 1970s, slowly growing and embedding itself in the Spokane community along the way.

But the actual date of birth of Spokane Public Radio is Jan. 20, 1980, when KPBX became a National Public Radio member station. Thus, last week marked the 35th birthday for SPR, which now has three stations throughout the region putting locally produced and nationally syndicated programs on the air.

For 35 years, the stations have operated out of the second floor of the Hoban Building on North Monroe Street, but that will change by this summer, when the organization moves closer to downtown. SPR celebrated its 35th birthday with a pledge drive that brought in about $170,000 in donations from listeners, all of which will go toward the new building.

Renovations are already underway at the historic fire station (included on both national and local registries) at 1229 North Monroe, which will give SPR about 11,000 square feet of space, more than double what they currently work with. It will also feature other amenities, like a performance space for musicians. The current location was originally intended for five employees; SPR now has 15 full-time and 17 part-time employees.

"We've been bursting at the seams for quite some time," says SPR General Manager Cary Boyce.

SPR's three stations cover 20,000 square miles of the Inland Northwest, and Boyce says the stations plan to increase their programming to better service their listenership. Achieving such goals means continuing with SPR's fundraising efforts, some of which could place your name on part of their new building's tiles and bricks. Perhaps most enticing is the opportunity to have one of the original fireman's poles in the old station named after you. Two are already spoken for, but there's one remaining.♦

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