In 1937, Carl Latenser applied to build a new 100-watt daytime station on 1420 kHz. the FCC approved the application in June of 1938. KVAK would go on the air on July 22nd, 1939. In the fall of 1939, the station would request (and the FCC granted) requests to operate at night to cover sporting events, as well as the dedication of the new Atchison City Hall. In addition, KVAK petitioned the FCC for full-time authority in October, which was granted on December 5, 1939. Under NARBA, KVAK would move from 1420 to 1450 on March 29, 1941. Latenser would sell the station to S. H. Patterson in April of 1943. By December 1943, KVAK had increased power to 250 watts.
In 1945, Patterson applied to construct a new station in Topeka on 1440 and to move KVAK to 1200, where it would become a 1000-watt daytime station. However, KCMO in Kansas City, then at 1480, received approval to move from 1480 to 810. Patterson subsequently changed his application in January of 1947 to move to 1470, and operate full time with a directional antenna. The FCC approved the application in April 1947. The approval was also conditioned on Mr. Patterson divesting himself of KVAK in favor of the new station in Topeka, and they could not operate on 1470 until KCMO moved from 1480 to 810. KVAK would move to 1470 in August of 1948, and KJAY would sign onto 1440 in March 1949.
Per the conditions of moving KVAK to 1470 and building KJAY, Patterson sold KVAK to James M. Griffith and Paul H. Buenning. The sale was finalized in January of 1950. The new owners elected to change the call letters. KVAK was slated to become KARE on February 22, 1950; however, the FCC history card indicates that the effective date of the call sign change was subsequently "extended" to March 1. Griffith and Buenning elected to incorporate in 1960, and Buenning subsequently sold his stake back to the corporation in 1968.
In 1985, Minneapolis TV station WTCN-TV was purchased by Gannett and changed the calls to WUSA. Gannett would then purchase another station in Washington and elected to move the WUSA calls there. Gannett subsequently requested the KARE calls from Atchison. KARE became KERE on June 4, 1986, with WUSA Minneapolis becoming KARE on June 11.
In 1996, the Griffiths would sell KERE to the owners of KNZA in Hiawatha. The new owners changed the call sign to KAIR, effective September 16.
In 2004, KNZA sold KAIR to Mark V radio group out of Overland Park. The sale was partially financed by KNZA. Evidently, Mark V defaulted on the loan, as KNZA re-acquired the station in exchange for forgiving the balance owed and the assumption of debt obligations related to KAIR's assets.
In July of 2013, KAIR applied for special temporary authority to operate at 250 W with a non-directional antenna setup due to damage to the line between the transmitter and the phaser. They received numerous extensions between 2013 and 2017 to continue operating at reduced power due to a combination of further damage found, site access issues, and copper theft at the site. On October 31st, 2017, the transmitter building caught fire, destroying the transmitter and taking KAIR off the air. In May of 2018, KAIR requested continued authority to remain silent, reporting additional copper theft.Under FCC rules, KAIR had to be back on the air with approved facilities (either the licensed 1000 W directional pattern, or a new STA for the 250 W non-directional setup) within one year (in this case, by 12:01 AM on November 1, 2018) or else the license will be canceled. FCC records do not indicate that KAIR returned to operation or applied for a new STA by the deadline; therefore, I must assume that KAIR did not return to the air, and cancellation of the license is pending.