Racketeer Radio - KFQX - SEATTLE


April 16, 2021

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Racketeer Radio is now officially registered to the IRUC (Internet Radio Uniform Callsign) & the NAdB (The National Association of Digital Broadcasters)

"In addition to its mission as the leading advocate for digital broadcasters, the NAdB serves as the liaison to IRUC in order to provide a uniform system of assigning callsigns (call letters) to Internet-only radio stations in the United States.

While traditional over-the-air AM, FM, TV and Amateur stations are typically assigned call letters by their national authority (such as the Federal Communications Commission in the United States), no such catalog system existed for the tens of thousands of Internet-only stations.

Digital Radio Uniform Identifiers (DRuIDs) are assigned by a nonpartisan international administrative team upon the request of station owners. DRuID prefixes are pre-assigned to individual countries and regions under standards established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and adapted for the diverse Internet/Digital Radio community".

Racketeer Radio has obtained the station call letters, KFQX-DB.

Why KFQX? 

It began as KFQX in 1924, operated by the American Radio and Telephone Company, under the ownership of Roy Olmsted and Alfred M. Hubbard. 

Roy Olmstead was one of the most successful and best-known bootleggers in the Pacific Northwest region during American Prohibition. A former lieutenant in the Seattle Police Department, he began to bootleg part-time while still on the force. Following his arrest for that crime, he lost his job in law enforcement and turned to illegally importing and distributing alcohol from Canada as a full-time and highly profitable occupation. 

When Washington State prohibited the manufacturing and selling of alcohol in 1916, the police force began raiding bootleg operations. Olmstead, noting the potential for profit, began his own bootlegging operation while still a policeman. On March 22, 1920, Olmstead was identified driving around a roadblock set by Prohibition Bureau agents raiding a rum-running operation. He was fired from the force and paid a fine of $500, but now could devote his full attention to his smuggling operations.

He ran his illegal operation like a business and before long he became one of the largest employers in Puget Sound. Known on the West Coast as "the Good Bootlegger", Olmstead did not engage in the practice of diluting his contraband with toxic industrial grade chemicals in order to increase his profits, selling only bonded liquor imported from Canada. To most other bootleggers, smuggling alcohol was but one facet of their criminal organization, and many were involved in prostitution, gambling, gun-running, and narcotics trafficking. Olmstead did not engage in these activities, and many did not regard him as a "true criminal" as a result. Despite the risks involved in rum-running, Olmstead did not allow his employees to carry firearms, telling his men he would rather lose a shipment of liquor than a life.

In August 1924, after his divorce to his first wife Caliste Viola Cottle came through, Olmstead married Elise Caroline Parché (aka Campbell). 3757 Ridgeway Place II.jpg (185 KB)They bought a large mansion they called the “Snow White Palace” at 3757 Ridgeway Place in the posh Mount Baker district of Seattle

In early October 1924, Roy and Elise Olmstead started radio station KFQX, with the assistance of inventor Al Hubbard. Studios were built in the Smith Tower, but were seldom used. For the most part, Elise ran the station. Typical of stations of the time, it had a variety format. The most popular program was "Aunt Vivian," where Mrs. Olmstead as "Aunt Vivian" read bedtime stories for children, beginning at 7:15 at night. This led to a popular legend that Elise inserted coded language into her stories as signals for her husband's bootlegging network. In exchange for a job offer to become a prohibition agent, Olmsted’s engineer and business partner, Alfred M. Hubbard, became a secret informant for the agency.  Drawing from Hubbard and other informants plus information collected from wiretaps, Police raided Olmsted’s home. On November 17, 1924, Elise was broadcasting from her home as usual , when the home was raided by government agents and put off the air, shutting down the radio station and arresting Olmsted, his wife and fifteen guests.

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The Federal Grand Jury returned a two-count indictment against Roy Olmstead and 89 other defendants on January 19, 1926 for violation of the National Prohibition Act and conspiracy. It was the biggest liquor violations trial in the country's history under the Eighteenth Amendment.   Olmstead was sentenced to four years in the McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary and fined $8,000 and was released in 1931. 

After the raid the station was leased to Birt Fisher.

KFQX had been off the air for four months in March of 1925, when Birt F. Fisher and the American Radiophone Corporation leased the station for a year with an option to purchase.  The call sign was changed to KTCL, for “Know The Charmed Land”.  Fisher moved the transmitter to 29th Avenue West and Drahvus Street on Magnolia Bluff, where he installed a new building and an antenna suspended between two 10 ft. wooden poles.  Studios were located in the New Washington Hotel in downtown Seattle.  Going on the air April 29, 1925, broadcasting five hours a day, sharing time with other small Seattle radio stations.  The station broadcast each day in the early afternoon and again in the evening with programs such as the Western Giant Orchestra directed by Warren Anderson during the week, the Sentinel Program on Saturday nights, and theervices of the First Church of Christ Scientist on Sunday nights.

Elise-and-Roy-Olmstead-Seattle-1925.jpg (105 KB)Roy Olmsted was convicted of liquor law violations and fined $8,000.  In order to raise the cash to pay the fine, Olmsted sold KFQX on May 21, 1926 to Vincent I. Kraft, the owner of KJR, for $10,000.  Kraft told the newspapers, “There will be no change in the programs .  Mr. Fisher will continue to operate the station under his lease, which still has several months to run.”  He announced big plans once the Fisher lease expired.roy.jpg (9 KB)

Faced with the imminent loss of the station, Fisher scrambled to find a solution to his dilemma, his main problem being a lack of financing.  He knew that Oliver David (O.D.) Fisher (no relation to Birt Fisher), the managing owner of Fisher Flouring Mills, Inc., was a big radio fan, and so he approached the Fisher family to seek financing for his radio operation.  O.D. and his brother Will agreed to put up the money to form Fisher’s Blend Station, Inc., which with 66% ownership by the Fisher brothers and 34% by Birt Fisher.  The plan was to build a brand new radio station and transfer the  operations to the new station when Fisher’s lease expired.  Studios were built in the 303 Westlake Square Building.  The station would debut on 980 kc. at the end December of 1926.  

In September, Fisher applied to change the call sign to KOMO.  He said it didn’t stand for anything — he just liked the sound of it.  He wanted to get rid of the previous call sign, which had been linked to bootleggers in the papers.  The government agreed to let him transfer the KOMO call sign to the new station when it went on the air.

Knowing in time Racketeer Radio would have to register to recieve a callsign, we thought what better way then keep Seattles history alive then reviving the history of KFQX, and the Racket behind it!

RACKETEER RADIO 

KFQX-DB * SEATTLE

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