KCHA 1580-AM History

Charles City’s first radio station KCHA-AM 1580 celebrated 70 years on the air Wednesday, November 27th, 2019.

Here’s a look at (and a listen to) KCHA throughout the years:


The historical features below were originally prepared and aired for KCHA’s 50th Anniversary in 1999. They are hosted by former KCHA announcers David McCartney and Carol Byrne. They look back at early programs and some of the stations personalities through the years. Interviews with former owners, including Charles Ellis and L. J. ‘Vern’ Bromberg, will highlight reminiscences of an earlier time in radio.

McCartney, producer of the series, is a 1974 graduate of Charles City High School and worked at KCHA from 1972 to 1974. He has masters degrees in history and library science from the University of Maryland and is an archivist for the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Byrne, a 1982 Charles City High School graduate, was with KCHA from 1985 to 1987. She has a degree in communications from the University of Northern Iowa and has done freelance audio production work in Des Moines.


“Mike in the Morning”, 1986-1993, Mike Lyman


Charles City Drive-In Theater commercials, 1969, 1972


Mike Lyman discusses sports reporting, including 1993 football play-by-play, and recalls FM nighttime service beginning in 1971 and first radio station in Iowa to call matches live at state wrestling tournament in 1986


Matt James aircheck in 1986, new owner Jim Bernard arrives


New owner Jim Bernard arrives in 1986


Jim Barker, 1966-1980 morning show, includes 1976 PSA about KCHA-FM frequency change from 105 to 96


Jim Barker, 1975 aircheck


Bloopers and practical jokes, Tim Jansen, Jim Barker


recalling Harriet ‘Henri’ Skillen, KCHA program director 1964-1977, by Vern Bromberg; 1959 Edsel automobile ad


May 15, 1968 tornado; Vern Bromberg, Jim Barker


May 15, 1968 tornado; Brian Ross, Vern Bromberg, Jim Barker


Teen rock and roll show, 1969 aircheck of Saturday afternoon “Teen Scene with Barry Dean”


Teen rock and roll, after school “Sounds of ’72” with Rick McCubbin, 1972


Children’s program, “Birthday Train,” in 1950s, Vern Bromberg recalls


“Cedar Valley Ranch” country music, 1965 aircheck, Vern Bromberg


Radio adjusts to arrival of TV in 1950s; “The Big Hour,” “A Woman’s World with Marian Kruk” – recollections by Vern Bromberg


Vern Bromberg recalls arriving at KCHA in 1951, his career there, 1951-1986; Charles City Motor Company commercial, 1967


Chuck Ellis, second owner of KCHA and its first local owner, recalls a botched promotion in 1955


Chuck Ellis, station owner, 1953-1957


Sample of station jingles, 1966 and 1969


Sample of station jingles, 1966; sunrise sign-on in 1967


Ralph Evans, KCHA’s first engineer, recalls construction of the station in 1949


Ralph Evans, KCHA’s first engineer, recalls construction of the station in 1949


May 15, 1968 tornado; interview with Gov. Harold Hughes


May 15, 1968 tornado; interview with Gov. Harold Hughes


“Sittin in With Bob;” longtime sports director Bob Monroe


“Sittin in With Bob;” longtime sports director Bob Monroe


“Sittin in With Bob;” longtime sports director Bob Monroe











1968 CHARLES CITY TORNADO

Unedited audio broadcast from 1580 KCHA in the hours following the tornado:


(Images below are scanned copies of handwritten notes taken in the aftermath of the ’68 tornado that devastated the town. KCHA broadcasted from their tower located on the south side in the hours following the storm.)





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