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KWMT 540 Khz Fort Dodge
The Daytime-only Years

by Ray Dennis

 

Shortly after the end of World War II, the FCC freeze was lifted on new radio station licenses and there was a rush to put a large number of stations on the air. Des Moines got three post war AM stations; KCBC 1390 khz, KWDM 1150 Khz and KIOA 940 khz. All three Des Moines post war stations were full time facilities, but were required to use directional antenna systems to protect other stations on the frequency. KCBC used the same pattern and 1,000 watts power day and night, KWDM ran 1,000 watts day and night with separate day and nighttime patterns, KIOA ran 10,000 watts daytime, 5,000 watts nighttime with two directional patterns.

As the AM band filled up, additional stations were added with the provision that they would only operate during daylight hours, shutting down at night to protect other stations on their frequency. In 1956, a 1,000 watt directional daytime station went on the air in Fort Dodge on 540 Khz. 540 has the characteristic of providing much more coverage than the higher frequencies for the same amount of power. Because 540 is a Canadian clear channel, KWMT was not allowed to operate at night and had to send most of it's power to the south, protecting Canada. Even so, KWMT was able to cover 6 states and boast of having Iowa's largest daytime coverage, after raising their daytime power to 5,000 watts in 1960. Although summer operational hours were longer, in December, the station couldn't sign on until 7:45AM and had to shut down at 4:45PM. This restriction continued until the Reagan deregulation in the 1980's when KWMT was granted the ability to operate using a mere 170 watts during periods of darkness. Because of the excellent signal propagation on 540 Khz, the station covers a sizable area, even with 170 watts.

Although DesMoinesBroadcasting.com is dedicated to the history of broadcasting in Des Moines and Central Iowa, KWMT is included because of its strong signal into the Des Moines area.

KWMT were not the original call letters of the station. Shortly after KEOK went on the air, the owner of WMT in Cedar Rapids purchased it and changed the call letters to KWMT. KWMT ran a top 40 format from the late 50's into the early 60's, then changed to middle-of-the-road music before switching to it's present full-time country music and agricultural format in 1970. Legendary DJ Dr. Don Rose was one of the top 40 personalities arriving in Ft. Dodge in 1957. Peter McLane also was one of the top 40 personalities and became program director before moving to KIOA in 1964.

For the many years that KWMT operated as a daytime only facility, the station used a sign off jingle was was very familiar to the many listeners in their large coverage area. It has been said that listeners sang along with the jingle.

KWMT acapella sign off jingle

 

KWMT Top-40 Jingles

KWMT CRC Series 11     (KSO used the same jingle package)

KWMT "Onederful" Jingles - 1962 The Johnny Mann Singers.

1958 Survey Sheet with Dr. Don Rose

Audio page at DeanJohnson.net -- Contains rare Dr. Don Rose KWMT audition tape and other items.

Deane was one of the KWMT jocks and Program Director and has had a colorful radio career. Besides KWMT sound bytes Deane has included items from other stations familiar to midwest listeners.

Promtional brochure from early 60's with pictures.

Peter "Rabbit" McLane promotional piece

Misc Documents -- pdf files
Adobe Reader Required

KWMT Format - early 60's

Pulse Survey - Sept 1961

More KWMT Music Surveys - 60-61

News Format

Dr. Don Rose Passes Away

DesMoinesBroadcasting.com has learned that Dr. Don Rose passed away Tuesday night, March 30, 2005, in his sleep in San Francisco. Don was a popular talent in several major markets including San Francisco, Atlanta and was a huge hit in mornings at WFIL in Philadelphia for many years. His Iowa connection is with the early days of KWMT in Ft. Dodge and we have a few items about Don on DesMoinesBroadcasting.com. Ironically, Dr. Don was on the air with Dean Goss and Cammy Blackstone in San Francisco last week and he said, "May the Lord bless you on your way in and the way out." KFRC has been playing his words hourly as a tribute.

 

Jingles courtesy of Bob Ogburn

KWMT web site
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