SIOUX CITY | In April 1927, while Calvin Coolidge was in the White House, and Prohibition was the law of the land, KSCJ hit the airwaves for the first time in Sioux City.

The radio station, 1360 on the AM dial, debuted with a program of dinner music from studios located at 413 Douglas St. The station was started by The Sioux City Journal, with the daily newspaper's initials forming the last three of the station's call letters.

More than 90 years later, past and present employees celebrated the station's birthday at a public reception at KSCJ's current studios at 2000 Indian Hills Drive.

"I began my career at KSCJ nearly 50 years ago and I hope to end my career here as well," Charlie Stone, the venerable host of "Open Line," said on Tuesday. "I was away from the station for more than 20 years but KSCJ was always a second home to me."

Like Stone, news director Woody Gottburg got his start at KSCJ, subsequently worked for other broadcast stations before returning to the fold.

"What sets KSCJ apart from other stations is the array of local talent," Gottburg said. "Our audience feels like they know us."

That's important to Dennis Bullock general manager for KSCJ and a group of other local stations owned by Louisiana-based Powell Broadcasting Co.

"Radio is an intimate medium," Bullock said. "Our philosophy has always been to keep things live and to keeps thing local."

Well, some things never change.

When aviator Charles Lindbergh came to Sioux City after his historic trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, KSCJ was there to cover it live. Likewise, the station carried the boxing world's historic "long count fight" between world heavyweight champ Gene Tunney and former champ Jack Dempsey live from Chicago later that same year.

The station covered the 1952 flooding of the Floyd and Missouri rivers to the 1989 crash landing of United Airline Flight 232 outside of Sioux City and every other major event that occurred in Siouxland.

To this day, KSCJ still broadcasts more news and sports than any other commercial station in the market, Gottburg said.

However, much of the station's current lineup consists of syndicated talk shows from conservative hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

"That's just how AM radio works," Bullock explained. "It is dominated by hosts who are to the right of center."

Though he quickly added that KSCJ's news programming remains balanced and free of political ideology.

Plus, Bullock tries to include as much local content as possible. From Tom Beightol's "Good Morning Siouxland" to Mark Hahn's "Drivetime Live," he said at least half of the day has some local content.

Even on the weekends, listeners can find such fare as "Nostalgia Theater" co-hosted by veteran Sioux City announcer Don Miller.

"At a time when many radio is becoming corporate and more and more hours are going towards national programming, I'm glad we're bucking the trend by staying local," Bullock said. "I credit (KSCJ's owners) Powell Broadcasting but I'm also grateful to our loyal listeners."

Inside KSCJ's break room are antique radios on loan from the Sioux City Public Museum.

"The radios are meant to represent each decade KSCJ has been on the air," Gottburg explained.

A portfolio of photos sit nearby. Some of the faces  -- like Jack Benny and Dinah Shore -- are easily identifiable as stars from the golden age of radio.

Other faces are harder to place. They are the people who were behind the mic at KSCJ during an earlier era. Their voices were probably as well-known as Bob Hope or The Shadow were to previous generations of Sioux Cityans.

In a broadcast career that started 40 years ago, Gottburg still enjoys the thrill of chasing down stories. 

"Nothing beats the appeal of live, local radio," he said.

Bullock, himself a 26-year veteran of the station, nodded his head in agreement.

"Our audience feels a connection between themselves and the staff," he said. "When our audience listens to us, they're tuning into friends and that's a nice feeling."

Editor's note: Corrects earlier version that mistated U.S. president in 1927

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