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Blanche Virgin and KMED   
Friday June 17, 2005
By Alice Mullaly

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

In January 1928, Blanche Virgin became the first woman to own and operate a licensed radio station in the United States. This station was KMED in Medford, Oregon. Bill Virgin, Blanche's husband, established the first radio station in Southern Oregon in 1923 and started KMED three years later. It was upon his death that Blanche inherited the station, which she operated for 22 years.

In those early years, KMED had studios in downtown Medford. In 1933, Mrs. Virgin purchased land west of Medford, and had new studios built and the old ones remodeled. Programming originated live in these studios or was from records. In 1937, KMED became part of the NBC network and began broadcasting national programs like "Amos 'n Andy" and Eddie Cantor. In 1941, KMED moved to 1440 on the AM dial, its final destination. During World War II, with employee Sergeant Jimmy Dunlevy, a number of programs were broadcast over the NBC network from Camp White, a military training facility just outside of Medford.

After World War II, FM radio and television began to take a toll on AM radio and in 1950 Blanche Virgin sold KMED. The station lives on today, broadcasting news and talk radio programs as a Clear Channel Communications affiliate.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

Source:
Kramer, Ronald. "Radio Days," Table Rock Sentinel, Spring 1994, Vol. 14, No.1, pp. 3-11

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