KSL began with a tiny radio station broadcasting from the roof of a building in downtown Salt Lake City. The radio station -- known then as KZN -- was started in 1922 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an offshoot of the Church-owned newspaper, The Deseret News. The initial broadcast was a message from LDS Church President Heber J. Grant on May 6, 1922. In that historic address, President Grant set the tone for the station's role in the future. It was to be a source of reliable information and community service, he said. Two years later, thousands of Mormon faithful throughout Utah listened to their leaders in the first radio broadcast of LDS General Conference. On July 15, 1929, the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir began its long-standing radio program.
The radio station continued to grow, and in 1932 KSL Radio became one of the first 50,000-watt, clear-channel stations in the country -- the most powerful radio designation allowed by the FCC. Facilities expanded over the years to fill an entire floor of the Union Pacific Building at Main and South Temple street. The station's programming consisted of entertainment, news, and sports. Although originally an NBC affiliate, in 1932 the station switched to the new CBS Radio Network when CBS President William Paley agreed to carry nationwide the weekly broadcasts of the Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
KSL was one of the first stations in the western United States to install Associated Press and United Press wire services and to carry a regular schedule of news programs. Later, the station was able to provide on-the-spot coverage of local and regional events with a mobile radio unit. Throughout the years, KSL Radio received many awards for its news coverage, programming quality, and community service.
The experience with KSL Radio set the stage for news, programming, and service by KSL Television. KSL-TV also benefited greatly from the experience, talent, and resources of the radio station. It also drew strength from the long affiliation with CBS. The television station was able to sign an early contract with the CBS Television Network, plus short-term agreements with DuMont and ABC networks to carry programs until additional new stations were operating in Salt Lake City.
During the first day of broadcasting, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., then President of KSL, restated the station's commitment to community service. In a broadcast statement, he said: "We pledge to you we shall do our best not to injure, but to uphold your family life."
The long KSL Radio and Television affiliation with CBS continued until 1997, when CBS purchased a competing television station in the Salt Lake City market. At that time, the NBC Television Network was pleased to name as its Salt Lake City affiliate -- one of the strongest television stations in America -- KSL-TV. KSL Radio continued its affiliation with the CBS Radio Network. The KSL-TV/NBC relationship continues to be strong and mutually beneficial.