Frequency1240 kHz
BrandingSacred Heart Radio
FormatCatholic Religious
OwnerSacred Heart Radio, Inc.
First air date
1922 (as KGY)
Former call signs
KGY (1922-2014)
Technical information
Facility ID34486
Power1,000 watts (unlimited)
Transmitter coordinates
47°03′31″N 122°54′09″W / 47.05861°N 122.90250°W / 47.05861; -122.90250
Translator(s)104.7 K284CG (Olympia)

KBUP (1240 AM) is a radio station licensed to Olympia, Washington. Owned and operated by Sacred Heart Radio, Inc., it relays the Catholic religious programming originating at KBLE 1050 AM Seattle.

KBUP is one of the oldest radio stations in the United States,[1] and received its first broadcasting license, as KGY in Lacey, Washington, on March 30, 1922.[2] In addition, the station traces its origin to earlier activities conducted by Father Sebastian Ruth at Saint Martin's College in Lacey.



In early 1916, Saint Martin's College was issued a "Technical and Training School" radio license, with the call sign 7YS, for a station established by Benedictine monk Father Sebastian Ruth, O.S.B.[3] After the entrance of the United States into World War I in April 1917, all civilian licenses were suspended, but following the war, 7YS was relicensed in late 1919.[4] Initially this station was not used for broadcasting, although Ruth was very active within the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), handling relay traffic with other amateur stations, and in 1921 he was appointed an ARRL director representing the northwestern United States.[5]

In the fall of 1920, it was reported that Ruth was broadcasting weather reports, using Morse code, every evening at 9:00.[6] In July 1921, Ruth upgraded the station to use a small vacuum tube transmitter, which provided the ability to make audio transmissions, and he began a schedule of twice-weekly one hour programs transmitting phonograph records.[7]


The Department of Commerce regulated radio stations in the United States from 1912 until the 1927 formation of the Federal Radio Commission (FRC). Originally there were no restrictions on which radio stations could make broadcasts intended for the general public. However, effective December 1, 1921, a regulation was adopted limiting broadcasting to stations holding a Limited Commercial license. Under the new standards, on March 30, 1922 a broadcasting station license was issued in the name of "Saint Martin's College (Rev. S. Ruth)", with the randomly assigned call letters of KGY, operating on the wavelength of 360 meters (833 kHz).[8]

KGY studios that were built over Budd Inlet in Olympia in 1960.
KGY studios that were built over Budd Inlet in Olympia in 1960.

During the time it was operated by the college KGY had a very low power and limited schedule, and its hours of operation were just 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Following a series of frequency reassignments, on November 11, 1928, under the provisions of the FRC's General Order 40, the station was assigned to a "local" frequency of 1200 kHz, operating with just 10 watts of power, which was unusually small even for this time period.[7] (Most "local" stations operated with 100 watts). KGY's original campus studio was in a shack, although there was a later move into a log cabin, with the resulting slogan "the log cabin station where the cedars meet the sea".

In 1932, the college decided it could no longer afford the expense of running a radio station, so KGY was sold to Archie Taft, who moved the station to Olympia, changed its frequency to 1210 kHz, and increased the transmitting power to 100 watts. In 1939, KGY was sold to journalist Tom Olsen,[9] and station would remain under family ownership for another seventy-five years.[10]

In March 1941, under the provisions of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, all the stations on 1210 kHz were moved to 1240, which has been the dial position of KGY and its successors ever since. KGY maintained a timesharing agreement with KTW, 1250 AM in Seattle, which required KGY to sign off at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and all day Sundays, during the time periods when KTW was broadcasting. In 1960, station operations moved into a unique two-story building that was constructed on pilings over Puget Sound.[11]

In 2014, KGY added a simulcast signal over a 220-watt translator station, K237FR located in Tumwater, Washington, broadcasting at 95.3 FM. (Technically this was a two-step process: the translator rebroadcast the HD2 digital sub-channel of KYYO in McCleary, Washington, while in turn KYYO's HD2 signal was a rebroadcast of KGY's programming.)


On October 14, 2014, KGY was sold for $250,000 by KGY Inc. to Sacred Heart Radio, Inc., which changed the format to Catholic religious, simulcasting KBLE 1050 AM Seattle.[12]

On November 6, 2014 KGY's call letters were changed to KBUP. Currently there are no radio stations officially assigned the KGY call sign. However, KYYO's HD2 digital sub-channel continued with the classic hits format previously provided by KGY, which is rebroadcast by translator K237FR in Tumwater, Washington using the slogan "Olympia's 95.3 KGY".[13]


  1. ^ "United States Pioneer Broadcast Service Stations" by Thomas White (earlyradiohistory.us)
  2. ^ "KGY History" (kgyfm.com)
  3. ^ "New Stations: Special Land Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, May 1916, page 4. The "7" in 7YS's call sign indicated that the station was located in the 7th Radio Inspection district, and the "Y" signified that it was operating under a "Technical and Training School" license.
  4. ^ "New Stations: Special Land Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, November 1, 1919, page 4.
  5. ^ "Our First National Convention: The Ball Game" QST magazine, October 1921, page 15.
  6. ^ "7YS: The well known amateur radio station of Rev. S. Ruth, St. Martins College Lacey, Washington", Pacific Radio News, September 1920, page 26. (archive.org)
  7. ^ a b Education's Own Stations by S. E. Frost, Jr., 1937, pages 381-383.
  8. ^ "New Stations: Commercial Land Stations", Radio Service Bulletin, April 1, 1922, page 3. Initial Limited Commercial license, serial #585, issued on March 30, 1922 for a three month period.
  9. ^ Seattle Radio by John F. Schneider, 2013, pages 123-125.
  10. ^ "KGY Radio Is Up For The Challenge Of Change" by Natasha Ashenhurst, October 7, 2012 (thurstontalk.com)
  11. ^ "Site of the Week 12/16/11: KGY, Olympia, Washington" by Scott Fybush, December 16, 2011 (fybush.com)
  12. ^ "KGY AM 1240 sold to Catholic broadcasting company" by Rolf Boone, The Olympian, June 30, 2014.
  13. ^ "Olympia's KGY 95.3" (kgyfm.com)