Taken from Tom Read’s American Christian Network, a little history of KTBI. The original site at 27th & Center Street in Tacoma is pictured. Below that, the site as it sits today. No sign that there ever was a radio station there.
The call letters KTBI were first used in the 1920s when the Bible Institute of Los Angeles was granted a radio station. The B I stood for Bible Institute. The Bible Institute of Los Angeles became known as BIOLA which is now a Christian college in the LA area.
The next use of the call letters was in Tacoma, Washington. KTBI went on the air in the early 40s at 1490 on the AM dial with 250 watts which was the maximum power for what were know as Class 4 radio stations. KTBI was owned and operated by a corporation, Tacoma Broadcasters, Incorporated. Obviously the TBI in the call letters meant Tacoma Broadcasters Incorporated.
This is the station at which Tom Read, President of modern day KTBI, began learning the broadcasting business. After the war in the late 40s, KTBI was granted permission to move from 1490, 250 watts to 810, 1000 watts daytime. The studio was moved from the second floor of the Puget Sound Bank Building in Tacoma to a beautiful new, studio/transmitter located at 2715 Center Street, literally in the center of Tacoma.
In the early 50’s, KTBI received permission to move from 810 to 850 and go full time. On 850, the station call letters changed to KTAC. 810 was used for a short time by a station in Western Canada and then became available as a major 50,000 watt facility for Central Washington to proclaim the Gospel.
Today, KTBI is an affiliate of the American Christian Network and airs the finest Bible teachers in the country. To reach the ACN radio network on the internet, go to www.acn.cc.
KTBI Tacoma was situated across the street from what is now the Tacoma Humane Society.