WKY Kilgen Organ Renovation/Rebuilding Project
The theatre organ differs from other church or classical pipe organs in a number of ways. While they come from the same roots, the theatre organ was used to accompany silent movies with effects for comedy and drama. This particular theatre organ, which the American Organ Institute restored in 2015-2017, was manufactured by the George Kilgen and Sons Company of Saint Louis in 1935. The Kilgen Opus 5281, a four-manual, 14-rank theatre-style pipe organ, was installed in 1936 in the new studios of WKY radio station, then located in the Skirvin Tower building.
WKY opened their studios on the 13th of April 1936 with Jesse Crawford performing. Oklahoma native Ken Wright served as staff organist for WKY for many years.
In March of 1951 WKY moved their studios to a new building. However, the Kilgen organ, eclipsed by television, did not make the move. WKY sold the organ to Oklahoma City, and it was installed in the Municipal Auditorium (now the Civic Center Music Hall). In 1998 the organ was donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society and placed in storage, to await restoration by the AOI.
The public performances of the Kilgen will start in early 2017 and will be scheduled throughout year.