The history of KANA 580 AM can be traced all the way back to WWII, well, in actuality, when it ended anyhow. Although the call letters were applied for before the second World War, they were not approved nor issued until a year following the end of the war. The ANA is an abbreviation, of course, of Anaconda, thus the reason for the call sign. Pat Dunne, who worked for the radio station as a teenager, filled in some of the blanks about the when, where and why of Anaconda’s only radio station.
When it began?
It’s to Dunne’s understanding, after reading about KANA in an old file drawer, the license applied for in 1939 by Tom and Helen Ryan was never filled because of the war. The government held off on issuing any broadcast or radio licenses issued during the war years. They froze all of those types of communications stateside. In 1946, once the license was granted, they got together and actually built the station. The couple moved a house just north of where the east Town Pump is — Dunne says the foundation is still there — and it became the station headquarters. The radio tower was to the southwest of the house. In the early days, KANA operated at 1230 AM dial and 250Watts.
“It actually covered a pretty big area. Covered Butte, Deer Lodge, Philipsburg, and of course, Anaconda,” Dunne recalled.
Owners of KANA
Of course, the Ryans were the first owners of KANA. They sold to AJ Mosby, a pioneer in Montana broadcasting who also built KGVO in Missoula. Mosby sold it to John Lyons, a senator in Shelby, Mont., in 1958, who continued to run from that location. But in 1961, Lyons built what is now a vetrinary clinic owner by Dave Guhlke for the studio headquarters. The transmitter was also moved a little farther to the west. Lyons then sold to Burt Oliphant of Dillon around 1961-62, while Rex Jensen ran the station for him. At that time, KANA became 580 AM and increased the station to 100o Watts, where it peaks today.
Oliphant then relinquished the station to John Boley in 1972-73. Boley moved KANA studios into the Montana Hotel (satellite dish was actually in between the Tammany Bar and Post Office) from the vet clinic. It was located in the southeast corner of the hotel, the corner where Subway formerly operated until last year.
Franzen bought it from Boley in 1978 and ran it until 2001 when she sold the station to Jimmy Ray Carroll of Carroll Broadcasting. Ron and Shelly Davis struck a deal to buy KANA in 2006 then ran the business until gifting it to AWARE Inc. in August of 2012.