Then and Now

Symons Block

Businessman Thomas Symons built the dignified four-story Symons Block in 1918. A few years later, it played a pivotal role in Spokane radio broadcasting. Radio set owners could only scan the desolate airwaves for faint signals from far away cities.


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Image One Photo Archive The Spokesman-Review Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

Businessman Thomas Symons built the dignified four-story Symons Block in 1918. A few years later, it played a pivotal role in Spokane radio broadcasting. Radio set owners could only scan the desolate airwaves for faint signals from far away cities. In 1922, Spokane still didn’t have a licensed radio station. Seventeen-year-old Ed Craney, who had a First Class radio license earned at a YMCA class, worked for Tom Symons Jr. selling parts for radios and he pitched the idea of a local station to help sell their merchandise. With his boss’ backing, Craney applied for the license and stretched an antenna wire from the Symons building to the theater marquee on the Columbia building across First Ave. The first station was KFDC, which became KFPY, and then later, KXLY. Craney went on to establish stations across Montana, including Butte, Helena, Bozeman, Great Falls and Missoula. KXLY moved out of the Symons Block in 1950. Craney died in 1991.


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