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Radio 1380 KOTA – One of South Dakota’s Heritage Radio Stations

KOTA Radio had it’s beginnings on Thanksgiving evening, November 26, 1936 as KOBH  for  Kall Of the Black Hills. The station’s studios were located in the 11th floor penthouse of the Alex Johnson Hotel in downtown Rapid City.

With the end of World War II approaching, KOBH received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to increase its power to 5,000 watts and changes it call sign to KOTA, the last syllables of Dakota, on January 1, 1945. At  that time KOTA also began it’s long affiliation with the CBS radio network.

Rapid City businesswoman Helen Duhamel purchased a minority interest in Black Hills Broadcasting in 1943 and expanded her holdings in 1948. On March 15, 1954, she bought all the remaining common stock and Duhamel Enterprises was formed with its only station being KOTA Radio.

In the early days, the station relied on live, local talent for much of its programming. Through the 1960s and 1970s, the station played MOR or adult hits music along with extensive news coverage.

In the 1980s the station began broadcasting the Adult Contemporary format of soft rock hits. By the mid-1990s KOTA had almost completely switched to an all News/Talk format.

Through it all, the station has maintained its commitment to news and community service and remains one of the most listened-to radio stations in Western South Dakota.

The Expansion of Duhamel Broadcasting

After the purchase of KOTA Radio, Duhamel had expansion plans. In August of that year, Mrs. Duhamel filed with the FCC for Channel 3 in Rapid City and the Construction permit was granted on June 1, 1955. It began commercial operation on July 1, 1955 at studios located at 1819 West St Joseph Street. KOTA TV was the second television station in South Dakota. Both the Radio and TV stations later moved into the historic Duhamel Building in Downtown Rapid City where KOTA Radio remains today.

In 1958, KDUH TV (Channel 4) signed on the air to serve the Nebraska Panhandle from the small town of Hay Springs, moving to Scottsbluff in 1982. KHSD TV (Channel 11) went on the air in 1966 serving the Northern Black Hills, Southwestern North Dakota, Northeastern Wyoming and Southeastern Montana. KSGW TV (Channel 12) began broadcasting from the Big Horn Mountains outside of Sheridan, Wyoming in 1977.

Duhamel Broadcasting Enterprises added two more radio properties in the 1990’s and an additional two FM stations since 2000. The company now operates KDDX, 101.1FM  and KZZI, 95.9 FM in Spearfish along with KQRQ, 92.3 FM and KZLK, 106.3 FM in Rapid City.

Long at the forefront in broadcasting technology, in December 2002, KOTA-DT began broadcasting as South Dakota’s first full powered HDTV station; KDUH-DT in August 2005, KHSD-DT in July 2005  as full powered HDTV stations and KSGW-DT in September 2006 as a full powered DT station.

On November 1, 2013 the company announced the television division was being sold to Schurz Communications. The sale was final on April 27, 2014.

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