Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Intermountain Radio Network

The owner of the Ogden Standard Examiner newspaper Abe L. Glasmann bought KFUR-AM in 1934 and changed the calls to KLO-AM. He hired his son in law George C. to run the station in 1941. In 1945 Hatch left KLO and moved his family Salt Lake City. There with partner Robert Hinkley they founded 910 KALL-AM.  These two stations became the core for the IMN (Intermountain Network.)  This conglomeration of stations spread across the American West eventually included about 90 radio stations sharing news and other programming including a rather incestuous arrangement with MBS. In 1962 Broadcasting magazine described them as "blanketing the Rocky Mountain States." More here.

In 1946 the publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune, John F. Fitzpatrick, bought  a fifty percent interest in the station. In 1949 Hatch hired Jack Page as his executive VP of Programming. The network already had 21 stations across the states of Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Nevada. Page had prior experience at WNAX-AM, WSLB-AM and KENT-AM and more importantly a stretch at the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1946 to 1948.  In 1951 they added 12 more stations expanding the network into 39 station network spanning 8 states. At the time they were almost as big as the Don Lee Network.  In 1952 they opened a Denver Office headed by Lynn Meyer as head of sales and Ken Palmer formerly of KVER-AM.
The Tribune got out in 1954. They  wanted to buy a piece of KUTV-TV and they had to sell their 50% interest because of cross-ownership limits. The hatch family continued to expand IMN and their other enterprises. They already owned a piece of KUTV-TV and in 1956, founded Western Microwave Inc. which would later become Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) a large local cable TV provider. they were involved in several early CATV law cases that permitted networks to exist. Glasmann even had to testify before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce at Congress.

In 1964 they were up to to 67 affiliates stretching from new Mexico to North Dakota. But they were nearing their peak. In 1990 the IMN suspended its news operations in 10 states for "economic reasons." Even after that hatchet job they still had a presence in 40+ markets but it dwindled quickly. In 1999 MBS closed up what was already a shrinking network. By the time they were locking up, the Hatch family had sold it all off it's media properties to Regent communications, already owners of KKAT. More here.