Moving to a Sound Future

SPR Fire Station No. 3 by Don Hamilton

Spokane Public Radio rehabilitated a historic Spokane treasure, Fire Station No. 3 on North Monroe and Sharp. This community hub has state-of-the-art performing and recording studios. We are in the process of growing the news, arts coverage, and local programing you depend on. Thank you for your gifts to the Moving to a Sound Future project!

Spokane artist Harold Balazs had a crazy idea.

While creating the steel sculpture Spokane Public Radio had commissioned for the Fire Station No. 3 Courtyard, he realized the different components would ring with different tones when gently struck. Why not get a few percussionists to “play” the artwork?

In September 2016, SPR held a small ceremony to dedicate the Jim Sheehan Family Courtyard at the new broadcast facility in the historic Fire Station No. 3. This move to a new facility “rang in” a new era of service. Spokane Symphony percussionists Bryan Bogue, Paul Raymond and Adam Wallstein volunteered to do the striking. Jim Sheehan and Family looked on with Harold Balazs and friends as the percussionists improvised a six-minute piece on “Listen,” the sculpture Balazs fashioned to abstractly suggest a human ear.

Don Hamilton / Hamilton Studio

Spokane Public Radio's studios and offices are located at 1229 N. Monroe St. at Sharp, just north of downtown Spokane. Fire Station No. 3 is on both the National and Spokane Registers of Historic Places.

These images below show highlights of the occupied building, as it looks the week of SPR's 36th Anniversary and Open House. The production staff had just moved in and all three stations -- KPBX, KSFC, and KPBZ -- were independently working.

After more than 35 years operating from the Hoban Building, SPR spent two months removing traces of having been there. SPR occupied the second floor of the building at Monroe and Carlisle from late 1979 until February 2016.

Engineer Jerry Olson led the expedition through cables, false walls, and equipment that wasn't crucial to initial broadcasting at SPR's Fire Station.

SPR Birthday Party & Fire Station Grand Opening

Jan 23, 2016

Hundreds of members, listeners, and well-wishers came to the Grand Opening of SPR's Fire Station No. 3 on January 23, a few days after Spokane Public Radio's 36th Anniversary.

Tours continued almost non-stop from noon until after 4 p.m. The building was mostly silent around 1 p.m. as the guests crowded into the new Performance Studio to witness the "Plug-In" Ceremony.

SPR Celebrates 36 Years with Live Broadcasts

Jan 19, 2016

SPR began broadcasting KPBX 91.1 on Jan. 20, 1980. As part of the birthday celebrations, the new studios at the Fire Station No. 3 will host a trio of live music broadcasts the week of Jan. 20, 2016.

Wednesday, Jan. 20 during Morning Classical 10-11 a.m. we hear the Spokane String Quartet: the first ensemble to play live at the first home, the Hoban Building. SPR takes our programming full circle.

SPR Movin’ on UP-date!

Jan 12, 2016

The largest and most crucial stage of moving the stations of SPR to Fire Station No. 3 began on Tuesday afternoon, January 12. The most noticible sign? KPBX programs were heard on all three SPR stations. See the KPBX schedule here.

Harold Blaze: "Listen"

Harold Balazs artwork dots Spokane's cityscape. Waves of steel seem to float above the Spokane River in "Centennial." Children in Riverfront Park run through the water flowing from his 24' columns of the Rotary Fountain. Scores of people have illicitly climbed the concrete tower nicknamed "Lantern" behind the INB Performing Arts Center.

SPR also has a piece of Harold Balazs's imagination installed in front of Fire Station No. 3. Titled "Listen" and made possible by funds from the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation, the abstract steel circular piece could be the renowned artist's final large public work.

While the inspiration is completely Balazs (pronounced "Blaze") some of the actual cutting, welding and grinding was done by family members assisting at the studio on the north side of Spokane County. Balazs suffers from a type of aphasia and also has tremors in his extremities, but he thrives on being busy with his true passion -- art in any medium.

Up On The Roof

Dec 15, 2015

Equipment can be temperamental. Without elements lined up just right, the line of dominoes that starts from the microphone and ends at your radio falls short.

In this move to Fire Station No. 3, SPR is essentially trying to build a double-line of dominoes backwards. Some places can add new pieces, but mainly we need to keep the old ones too. And many times we've had to wait until a business or service provider made a change to a domino they control. This is a reason why the process has taken months longer than anticipated.

Wind Storm Blows KPBX Down Temporarily

Nov 19, 2015
Spokane Public Radio

SPR held its very first pledge drive on May 18, 1980. If that date seems familiar, there's good reason; that's also the day Mt. St. Helens literally blew its stack, leveling miles of forest, crushing and burning homes, and incidentally also laying the first SPR pledge drive to rest under several inches of volcanic ash that covered the region.

Online Donation Form

SPR invites you to be part of our new broadcast home by putting your name on a brick or brick tile in the renovated courtyard. The former Fire Station No. 3's brick walkways will be renovated in Spring 2016 with bricks containing names and logos of special donors to the Moving to a Sound Future project.

Bricks can celebrate an anniversary, remember a loved one, or feature a business or civic organization's name.

Construction complete at Spokane Public Radio's new home! See how the reality compares to the architectural planning in this walkthrough video created by Hamilton Studio.

Administrative Offices Moved to Fire Station

Oct 26, 2015

Although SPR is officially a not-for-profit organization, we still need professionals both on and off the air. Many of the staff which oversees events, underwriting, and volunteers are now settling in to the Fire Station No. 3 on N. Monroe Street.

Spokane Public Radio

The Membership and Financial offices moved into the historic Fire Station No. 3 on Oct. 9.  Offices still exist at SPR's old home for 35 years, but Membership is the first department to spend most of their time at the new location.

Phone lines and an intranet connect 1229 with the rest of the staff at 2319 N. Monroe Street. Listeners contacting the Membership Department should still call (1-800) 328-5729 or send email. Staff members at the Hoban Building may be able help with questions as well.

It’s a daunting task—packing up years of stuff and carting things to a new home. After 35 years SPR has a lot to move.  As construction on SPR’s studios at Fire Station No. 3 wraps up, the staff is packing in earnest.

The biggest concern is the logistics of moving Spokane Public Radio’s services without turning them off for the move. Chief Engineer Jerry Olson is in charge of keeping all three stations alive during the process. It’s an intricate dance.

Hamilton Photography

The building that once housed the busiest fire crew in the city is almost ready for its new life as the broadcast home of Spokane Public Radio. Over the next several weeks, SPR will complete construction, and finish the long list of final details.

The new facility is on the National Historic Register and has recently been added to the local Spokane Historic Register. Brass fire poles have been restored, the upstairs maple floor refinished, brickwork and windows repaired or replaced, foundation and joists reinforced, and so much more.

Spokane Public Radio

The fire poles are back! During renovation of Spokane Public Radio’s future home, the historic Fire Station No. 3, crews removed the two front brass poles. They were carefully replaced and reinforced with steel centers and the tops fitted with bracket supports.

The Wyncote Foundation “South Pole” is sealed at the level of the ceiling (or second story floor if you prefer), the Dodson’s Jewelers “North Pole” is exactly as Spokane firefighters remember it, with the original safety trap doors separating levels.

Construction continues on Fire Station No. 3 at Monroe and Sharp, preparing for SPR's eventual move. The space includes new doors: all five large carriage doors that were used for fire apparatus are being replaced by doors that keep the character of the originals but are more practical and secure.

“Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We are Going” was the theme of SPR's 35th Anniversary, which included a full-day pledge drive to raise $170,000 towards unlocking a State of Washington grant. The grant and donations combined will pay for the construction already underway, turning Fire Station No. 3 into a historic home for KPBX, KSFC, and KPBZ's studios and operations. 

'New Era of Public Radio Service'

Jan 22, 2015
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

SPR General Manager Cary Boyce says moving into the newly renovated building will bring the "beginning of a new era in public radio service to the region."

In these special interviews, Boyce explains three ways the building will serve the Inland Northwest.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio.

The Builder: On SPR's Fire Station Remodel

Jan 22, 2015
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Walker Construction is the primary construction company working on the remodel, along with several sub-contractors. Ed Walker spoke with us about why this is more than your average bid job for the crew.

Our Rep: On SPR's Fire Station Remodel

Jan 22, 2015
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Spokane Public Radio's owner's representative, Harvey Morrison, has worked on the building project since the beginning. He helped scout out possible locations, and ultimately walked us through the plan to remodeling the old fire station.

The Planner: On SPR's Fire Station Remodel

Jan 22, 2015
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

Copeland Architecture and Construction was the lead architect for the renovation project in old Fire Station #3. Architect Austin Dickey toured us through the building explaining historic elements, and new features.


Museum of Arts & Culture

Spokane's former Fire Station No. 3 is more than SPR's home. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and represents the development of the region's fire department.

Like KPBX's first broadcasters, the first firemen in Spokane were all volunteers with different roles in the community. Many of the firemen were local businessmen who wanted to protect their livelihoods. But the volunteer fire brigades ended in 1889, when Spokane's Great Fire proved the blossoming city needed a paid, full-time force.

The area where Spokane's first fire trucks were build is being transformed into a state-of-the-art Performance Studio, capable of audio and video recording.  Flexible seating allows this room to be utilized for live performances (such as the annual MusicFest and Holy Names Piano Camp) and other needs (such as our necessary pledge drives).

The original garage door that separated the insides of the two building is hung in the Performance Studio, to the audience's back.

Online Donation Form

This digital walkthrough showcases SPR's plans for the historic Fire Station No. 3 at 1229 N. Monroe Street in Spokane.

Online Donation Form

Unseasonably warm months have been a help for the work crews preparing Fire Station No. 3 for its new life as SPR's studios. Crews from Walker Construction and its subcontractors are framing in new studios and offices. A new concrete floor is about to be poured in the Performance Studio. Electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, and heating/cooling ducts snake about the wall joists and high ceilings. It's possible the basic construction work could be completed not long after the start of 2015.

Construction Crews Renovating SPR Home

Sep 25, 2014

Online Donation Form

Thanks to donations made to the Moving to a Sound Future project, construction has begun on Fire Station No. 3. Less than $948,000 remains to be raised to double working space and triple SPR’s production capacity.

Thank You to Sandpoint Rotary & Residents

Sep 17, 2014

The Rotary Club of Sandpoint invited SPR General Manager Cary Boyce to speak at their regular meeting on Sept. 10, to talk about the changing face of radio and the Moving to a Sound Future project.

He told the gathered members that construction was underway on the historic Fire Station No. 3 in Spokane, and that less than $1 million remained to be raised to finish the project. The results will include a large performance/recording studio, double the floor space, and three times the production equipment.

Gathering an Oral History of Fire Station #3

Jul 1, 2014

Decades before Spokane Public Radio chose the brick building at Monroe and Sharp to house the studios of KPBX, KSFC and KPBZ, the firefighters responsible for the Downtown core and area northwest of the Spokane River worked and lived there for days at a time.

SPR’s renovation plans preserve many of the historic aspects of the brick building, which was built in two stages in 1912 and 1917. Now, SPR is preserving the oral histories of some of the men who spent a good part of their careers there.

Fire Station
Don Hamilton / Hamilton Photography

Online Donation Form

The Moving to a Sound Future project will secure, build, and grow our service for generations to come. Our total goal is $5 million, and while we're coming very close, we're not there yet. We must complete our state grant match—about $1.6 million—as soon as possible to help us meet construction obligations and deadlines.

The time is now. Your gifts and your vision for public radio help secure this essential service—now and for the future.