Finally Home: The WKY Kilgen Organ is reborn at the Oklahoma History Center

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Built in 1936, silent for decades, the WKY Kilgen finally makes music.

Dr. John Schwandt of the American Organ Institute has the honor of playing this huge instrument first.

He describes his feelings while testing it out, "Anticipation, utter terror, and then, when it works, pure joy."

There are still people around who recall Ken Wright's nightly broadcasts from WKY Radio's home at the Skirvin Hotel.

More fans recall the 1,114 pipes blowing at the old Municipal Auditorium, now OKC Civic Center.

History Center Director Bob Blackburn planned this building to be the Kilgen's new home.

It took a few years longer but it sounds all the sweeter for the effort.

Blackburn says, "To hear it finally, within the last couple of months, kind of brings it all together. It shows that persistence occasionally pays off."

Dusty Miller has been on of the Kilgen's champions since the city donated it in 1998.

He and others worried for a time their restoration project might not survive.

Listening to it play for the first time was an emotional experience.

"I had to take a deep breath," says Miller. "I had a tear in my eye."

Emotional too for people like Carolyn Rexroat - Warner who was a WKY staff announcer in the '40's and early 50's.

She worked for both radio and TV when it started.

This organ provided her early career sound track.

"This is the first time I've heard this organ in many, many, many decades," she laughs.

On a Sunday afternoon in the Great Hall, a final rehearsal.

The great Kilgen and some of the people who's lives it touched prepared a long overdue dedication.

This musical instrument and living museum exhibit is already calling a new public to hear it play and to live a new chapter in a new home.

On Monday, April 24th. The Oklahoma History Center scheduled an opening concert for the Kilgen Organ to be held in the Great Hall at 7pm.

Two other concerts were already scheduled for July and October.

For more information about the Kilgen and other events at the History Center go to http://www.okhistory.org