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Posting order: Latest message first.
Like many of my contemporaries, I started my on-air career while in high school at KCOG/Centerville in 1965. I worked weekends, after school and covered vacations for guys in the summertime. I was a bit of a delinquent (speeding tickets) and was repeatedly warned by the station GM John Carl (later, the owner at KCOB/Newton) that if I got in one more scrape, Id be fired. I did and I was, three or four times.
In 1969-70, I did news at U of Iowa campus station KICR, located in the basement of South Quadrangle dorm and did weekends on KXIC AM plus changed tapes and looked after the transmitter for automated KXIC-FM.
My first job following college was at KCII in Washington, IA. It was the home of two really great voices, Lee J. Thomas (later on KIOA) and Jerry (Jeff) Dean (later at KGGO.) I did the morning air shift, ran the police beat, the noon news and then 1-3 pm back on the air.
Hoping to land a real news job in radio, I joined KWMT/Fort Dodge, working for one of the great broadcast voices ever, Jerry Sheeder. Skip Nelson did mornings, Dale Eichor did mid days and former WHO overnight jock Mike Hoyer covered afternoons.
KWMT was daylight only station at 540 AM, a Canadian clear channel, or so I was told. When president Nixon declared the country would go on year round daylight savings time, Old Skipper couldnt light up 540 until 8:45 in January.
Next stop was KRNT/Des Moines. KRNT and Q-102 FM had just been sold to Stauffer Publications of Topeka and I worked for about 16 months in the little newsroom, then located in the Central Life Building.
I had heard about a potential opening at KWTO/560 in Springfield, MO. The young lady I was dating at the time and I essentially eloped to Springfield and I did mid-day news five days a week. Her folks owned a cabin at Lake of the Ozarks and we spent many weekends at this cabin, sunning and swimming. In the process, we became hooked on living on this lake. We were married in 75. A son came along in 76.
In 76, I was tipped by a college chum in Waterloo that Black Hawk Broadcasting, owners of KWWL TV and radio and KLWW Cedar Rapids had acquired KCBC/Des Moines. KCBC was my next stop and although few locals knew it, the seven person news staff provided statewide news via a dial-in network called Iowa News Radio. We had two, sometimes three people at the statehouse, doing radio and TV pieces for KWWL and the companys TV outlet in Sioux City.
KLWW in Cedar Rapids had a microwave link to KWWL TV in Waterloo and the station took this market by covering Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, plus contributions from a Dubuque stringer.
In order to get our film (later video tape) from Des Moines to Waterloo, the package had to be on the noon Greyhound bus to Waterloo. If I missed the bus, I had to drive to Waterloo.
In 1978, at the encouragement of news chief Grant Price, I was moved to the statehouse and covered Governor Ray, the legislature and made the acquaintance of a rising GOP Lt. Governor named Terry Branstad, who occupied a tiny office behind the Iowa Senate.
The statehouse was challenging and I met dozens of very sharp but underpaid journalists on this beat. In 1979, my stepdad asked what kind of money I was making at this top job and he just laughed when I told him. I remember him saying, Eric, I had more expenses last year than you had income. Why dont you quit your job and come to work for me? And I did.
Jack was in the coal business, having been regional VP for AMAX Coal of Indianapolis. He wanted to begin mining Iowa coal and had acquired some drilling information. The family built a coal mine and wash plant near Lovilia, Iowa and Jack signed long term contracts at Iowa Electric of Cedar Rapids and Iowa State University. 350,000 tons of washed Iowa coal was delivered by truck each year to these and a few other utilities. I was mine manager of the 60-man, three pit operation.
A dispute with our junior partners over the future direction of the company led to my employment at C. Reiss Coal of Sheboygan, WI. Reiss owned coal docks on the Great Lakes and had been in business for 100 years.
Reiss was a great family owned company and I was encouraged to think about moving from Des Moines to Sheboygan. Just as that idea began to settle in, Koch Industries of Wichita bought out Reiss. Koch wanted to mix its refinery petroleum coke into the two million tons of coal that Reiss shipped every year.
We moved to Minneapolis and I was moved into sales of the refinerys heavy residual oil, plus was named general manager of their steamship fuels business in Duluth, MN. After 16 years with Koch, I left and started my own heavy oil and asphalt brokerage.
I have more or less reconnected with the Scribbling Profession as a stringer/feature writer for our local newspaper. Now mostly retired at the Lake of the Ozarks, I would agree that, as someone said, ...what a long, strange trip its been.
I was General Sales Manager at KSO from 1974 until 1978. I saw a reference to the search for Big Foot. The personality who conducted that radio bit (from South Dakota) was morning man, John Leslie. (Johnny Dolan was doing afternoons and Perry St. John mid-days and we beat WHO in the metro in, I believe, 1977.)
An interesting factoid was that the Des Moines Register and Tribune never did any coverage of radio stations in those days (except for the programming schedule on the TV listing page). But we broke through with the Big Foot bit and got a full front page article on the life section of the paper.
I was on the news staff at KRNT Radio and TV from 1966 to 1969 as a reporter, radio talent, and TV sub for weather and news. During that time the changeover from black and white took place for local programming. You are right that the glass map picture was flipped electronically for black and white. However the first color cameras would not allow for this, so they had to shoot into a 45-degree-positioned mirror in order to get the reversal. The map had been used exclusively by Russ until Al Buch and I started using it when we subbed. I was in the Twin Cities after 1969 and don't know when they dumped the glass map.
Love your web site. It brought back fond memories of my broadcasting days in Iowa.
(Retired in Nashville TN)
KFMG and KBAB memories
I worked the overnight shift at KFMG-FM, Des Moines for about a month in the
late winter of 1974. The station was in transition from Ron Sorenson's
progressive format to what would shortly become KGGO-FM Go 95. In those
transition times the music mix was all over the map, with pretty much
everything in short rotation--- one hour went from Sister Janet Mead singing
"The Lord's Prayer" to Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies
Bleeding" to the Grateful Dead. I was plagued by transmitter problems in
that month---something was seriously wrong with the Collins FM rig and it
would periodically 'go spurious'---emitting as much energy across the whole
FM band as it did on 94.9. The KFMG request lines would then light up with
calls from angry listeners, wondering why we were trashing KIOA-FM on 93.3
MHz. Shortly after that the transmitter would go off the air. The
transmitter was located behind the studio building on East Broadway at the
base of one of the KSO-AM towers, and there WAS a remote control in the KFMG
studio, but for some reason only the 'transmitter OFF' channel would work---
I would have to run through snow drifts out to the transmitter shack to turn
the damned thing back on. I felt sorry for the station engineer, whose real
full time job was rebuilding the antenna system for KSO-AM, which certainly
was the money maker for Stoner Broadcasting at the time. A field technician
from Collins Radio came in to try to figure out the problem, but he didn't
succeed. A couple of nights after his visit the transmitter went down and
wouldn't come back on. A quick examination by me and the station engineer
1. The protection circuit in the transmitter that would have shut it
down with high reflected power from the antenna wasn't turned on.
2. Because of that, the reflected power burned out the 300 or so feet
of 3 inch coaxial transmission line that ran up the tower to the FM antenna.
I went home early that morning and the next day found out that since the
station would be off the air for some time I was on unpaid leave until the
problem was repaired. I think that incident and the overnight hours
convinced me that broadcast engineering might be a better path for me to
take than being a jock.
The absolute best part of my short stint at KFMG was meeting legendary KSO
program director Perry St John, and learning enough from Ray Dennis to pass
my FCC 1st Class Radio Telephone license test. Ray, I think that Rick
Wilson and I may still owe you money for those lessons..
Some pretty impressive people worked on air at KBAB, Indianola back in the
day, beginning with former KIOA jock Chuck Hamilton, who put KBAB on the
air. The other names that come to mind are Big Ron OBrien, who wound up at
WLS in Chicago, and Randy Crouch, who I heard sometime later doing an
airshift at Mexican Border Blaster X-Rock 80 using the name Catfish. I
guess I'd better not leave Steve Mathews or The Genuine Jim Beam off the
list, either! I did some on air work there after the KFMG gig, and wound up
building new studios for them in 1976. As I look at the pictures of that
studio on this website I realize just how much I learned about broadcast
engineering between then and now
KBAB 'rented' the 1490 airwaves to local Simpson College students in the
1970's for two hours each weekday evening from 10pm to midnight, and some
great free form music broadcasts came out of the studios those nights. The
student announcers were a hassle for station manager Mel Moyer. One
memorable event centered around a station promotion Mel was doing with
Indianola merchants. Each participating merchant was given a jar full of
peanuts, and one jar stayed at the radio station in the lobby. KBAB
listeners were asked to visit each merchant to look at their jar, and then
come to the station to see that jar, and then guess how many peanuts were in
all the jars, total, and win a prize. The Simpson students didn't know
anything about the contest, of course, and one evening, probably after a
trip out behind the station to smoke pot, got the munchies and ate the jar
of peanuts at the studio and threw the jar out into the parking lot. Mel
was NOT amused.
Does anyone reading this know the whole story of Jim Wayman working
overnights at KIOA-FM in the mid 1970's when he invited aliens to take over
After working as a contract engineer for several stations in central Iowa I
got a job in Minneapolis as a full time broadcast engineer, and have lived
here ever since.
Steve Brown (radioranger at Comcast.net)
Hey -- I think I might know what charity this might have benefited (KIOA Bikeathon). My key was that McDonald's was involved. I remember in the mid-late '70s, McDonald's sponsored a bikeathon that went to all of their locations in Des Moines to benefit a diabetes charity. Wish I could give you a specific name. The photos you have look like around 1976, but I remember the 1977 bikeathon better because they had actor William Shatner as a guest "biker". It was the weekend before the McDonald's that used to be next to Plaza Lanes opened (the one where I worked as a senior at Hoover).
Maybe that will jog someone's memory and get some additional info for you.
I just stumbled across this site, while looking for information on my favorite roller rink and horseshow organist, Coleen Brady (she used to play at the old Tromar Roller Rink, circa 1956.
My favorite radio show from my days growing up in Indianola, was the Sunday night "George the Jazz Man Show" from WHO. It was hosted by George Fletcher and I never missed it on Sunday nights. I learned a lot of Dixieland songs which I still play to this day in Portland Dixieland Bands (Trombone). That show had a great theme song which I have stll have not been able to find!
I worked as an electrician in Indianola before I moved West, walking on roofs all over town, holding a amall antenna and field strength meter, trying to find a usable signal from the new UHF TV station, KGTV, ch. 17. That wasn't a lot of fun, especially in winter.
Garry L. Powell
Just linked to your site for the first time via the Valley High School class reunion website (Class of '69). What a great find! See, I too am part of Des Moines broadcasting history, though a very obscure one. Having never had a picture taken of me during my broadcasting heydey at KDPS FM, I was delighted to see one on your website taken several years before I appeared on the air. At last I found a part of my past.
After a 4-year stint as a dedicated Des Moines Register newspaper carrier (1963-1967), I attended a 2 week radio and TV "summer course" at KDPS during the summer of 1967. There we learned to run the old 3-lens TV cameras (I never could remember the right lens without looking), floor direct, and "do" radio. For the next 2 years, I had a part-time job working on the TV side of KDPS, but more memorably, had my own KDPS radio show from 7pm - Midnight. Quite a responsibility for a high school kid.
Or maybe not. KDPS, 88.1 FM on your dial, wasn't "drive time" and - truth be known - probably had a 1000 listeners. Or maybe less. The records (some of us remember those!) were pre-selected for my playing pleasure before I got to the studio. Actually it was my "displeasure" as most of the music was from Broadway musicals (e.g., "South Pacific") or other true "oldies" of the day (I would have preferred classical at the time). In between records, I played short fillers such as the always exciting "Samuel Pepys' Diary" which, to this day, I still don't get the point of. Still it was good money and I was in broadcasting. I could even study while Side 1 of the LP de jure played on and on.
That of course led to my own set of bloopers. One night, as "South Pacific" droned on, I had my earphones around my neck, with the volume fairly low, and was deep in the middle of some textbook. All of a sudden, the engineer burst in and asked, "Do you know your record is stuck?" I have no idea how long it had been stuck nor did the engineer ever tell me. I managed to keep my gig.
My last year of broadcasting excellence brought the new-fangled 8-track tape player into the studio. Actually there were two of them mounted in the equipment rack that shows up in the KDPS studio picture. (Not much had changed except the chair and some the equipment by the start of my tenure.) I was given a very quick briefing on how the 8 track players worked. At the time, however, we only had 2 8 track tapes: Good ol' Samuel's Diary AND the Star Spangled Banner.
I had no trouble playing the Diary, but then sign off time arrived at Midnight. Forgetting to cue up the Star Spangled Banner, I made my sign off and announced "And now, our National Anthem." I then turned to put the tape into the top machine - it wouldn't fit. I tried several more times, oblivious to the fact that I had the tape upside down! Thinking the top deck was malfunctioning, I rushed to put the tape in the lower deck which finally took the tape. I had unknowingly turned it right-side up. How many people in Radioland were waiting for the National Anthem and instead got 45 seconds of dead air, I'll never know. Needless to say, I kept that blooper to myself for a long time.
Thanks again for the memories!
Waxhaw, North Carolina
Valley High '69, University of Iowa '73, Drake Law School '81
Ill be darned ..glancing thru the dial I found you .and as Des Moines FIRST TV Weatherman I thought Id write this note. This Is Lou Epton,, now living in
Las Vegas, NV. Retired after 19 years on Vegas radio, and you have my memory spinning like a top. I also went to school at Drake University, my favorite even though I
later transferred to Northwesterns Chicago campus ..And I met my wife in Des Moines while attending Drake .and boy, what memories the reason KGTV gave up
the ghost was because the then Governor of the state was killed in an auto accident not far from the studio and WHO TV had better coverage of the accident then we did.We were a small operation with only one studio camera ..but had ash trays the cost a bunch ..go figure. Also The Ames station had CBS at
the time, which was a school station (public financed) You see, the Governor was going go try and get us a VHF channel but when he was killed, we gave up.
Ive spent most of my life on the air in various cities, and now at age 80 I have the best memories one could ask for How many of you remember the Chesterfield
Club in town .and the Tromar ball room ..Someone mentioned KCBC .remember when the busses carried he station? And how about the Webers KWDM
Also, I did a show on KIOA while attending Drake as a school project ..And finally there was Prof Death,(I THINK) at Drake who taught Social Science. Oh well thats about it for now .God Bless you all .and keep up the good wok re Des Moines.
Hello out there!
I have a memory from Kso radio from I think Jan or Feb 1978 and wanted to know if you may have any sound bytes available or were aware of this. I was 12 years old that year and listened to KSO in the a.m. before school every morning with my mom. I remember the a.m. d.js talking about bigfoot sightings in south dakota and Iowa if I remember correctly, Anyway Bud Mulcahys Jeep in Des Moines loaned the D.Js a Jeep so they could go search for Bigfoot. I remember it was bitterly cold because I remember the radio personalities remarking about their tape recorder freezing up. They must have broadcast from their search location 2 or 3 days. Me and my friends were very excited about this as I believe they got pretty close to the animal. Could this have been Tom and Jerry? Can you get any sound recordings to these broadcasts as I did mention this to a BFRO researcher last year. It was a funny broadcast and dont know why I remember this.
Thanks so much,
Great to relive old memories. And Dennis "Jerry," thanks for the shoutout. I'll have to dig out some old pics of the Great Country Concerts and send them. Looking forward to checking back for more!
KSO/KGGO circa 1986-1995
Hello, During the late 50's and 60's I grew up with Fred "SuPiDaK" Hyatt's son Mike. We were neighbors on 48th Place in Des Moines. Mike and I would go to the KDPS studios (old channel 11) at 1800 grand ave and tape KaDiPuS Club shows on a regular basis with his father (Fred). Fred was a great guy and I remember how he always had time for the kids on 48th place. We used to look at the moon through his telescope from a platform on top his garage! As far as KaDiPuS Clug goes I guess You could say I was a frequent "extra" on the show along with Mike and others. I have told my grown children of this and they don't seem to believe me. It would be GREAT to know if any of the old shows still exsit on tape and if so, view them to prove the show's existance. It would be even cooler if any of the old shows included me as a guest. Do they exist?
Tom Gray Dallas Center, Iowa.
Was reading the comment about the first Great Country Concert from KSO. Doug Stromberg shared some info concerning Hank Williams Jr. I was doing afternoon drive news with Perry St. John at the time. As I remember, Hank found out the afternoon of the concert that a long time family friend and his business manager had been screwing him over for years. Perhaps this is a "and now you know the rest of the story!" moment.
I have been in touch with KWBG thanks to this website.
Your site still leaves me in awe. Guess the older I get, the more nostalgic I get. I wrote you a few years ago talking about growing up on E 38th St and riding horses down to the KSO transmitters on Broadway and listening to KSO in the furnace pipes at our house. Its been a long time so, I don't expect you to remember.
On to the current question... Have you been able to come up with any of the old local radio ads? during the mid 70's I owned a TV/CB shop at E 9th & Hull called Douglas TV. During about 1974 thru 1977 I used to advertise quite heavily on "Great Country" KSO. Would love to hear some of those old commercials. One, I did myself at Christmas time wishing Des Moines a Merry Christmas. I was a sponser of I think what was the first Great Country Concert at Veterans Auditorium. Unfortunately, the one you have a flyer picture of on your site was "after my time" so I am not one of the sponsers in that picture. I remember KSO had a great party for us, the sponsers, with the performers and the DJ's. (Perry St John was the Big Man at KSO then.) The party was great. They had a little known talent at that time with Hank Williams Jr. (who actually was so stoned he was boo ed off the stage), and besides that, before the show, he hit on my wife! lol There was another "son of a famous old country star" but I am having Brain Freeze right now and can't remember who that was other than to say he was a real nice kid. Well , just was wondering if any of those old commercials may be around.
Speaking of commercials, who could ever forget the "Farmers Daughter" commercials for that country/western store on NE 14th st?
I live in Florida now and it was nice to hear your interview with Dick Vance. I just moved north a little bit, but spent the last 25 years in South Florida, (Boca Raton). If I had known Dick vance was there I would have tried to look him up. I still have (somewhere) my "lifetime" membership card to Sorenson's. I truly grew up listening to him on my transistor radio) My daughter still lives in Boca, I live in a small town called Palm Bay. Oh well, I'm babbling.
Thanks for the memories,
Dear Ray and George
As I high school kid growing up in northern Iowa, I often listened to Des Moines Radio and watched Des Moines television. I often found myself visiting radio and TV stations, watching and learning broadcasting from the pros. Many broadcasters were kind enough to let me in, including Duane Ellot, Perry St. John, Ted W. Scott to name a few. Later after pursuing a career in broadcast engineering, I found myself once again in the friendly confines of 3900 NE Broadway, while working for Stoner Broadcasting, as the CE of KHAK AM/FM in Cedar Rapids. Later, I found myself surrounded with wonderful people, including Peter McLane, Bill Wells, Larry Morgan, Larry Moffit, and others. In Cedar Rapids, Don Warren was our morning man and still played that revile cart every morning at 6:05.
I attach some photos for the web site. As I find more, Ill certainly pass them on. I know I have a great shot of Perry St. John in the KSO studio. I also recently found Michael Stone on Facebook, and he remembered me from a job interview at KMGK in 1980. He is hoping to pass some Des Moines memories on to you as well.
Its a small world!
Paul Harvey is gone. While I didn't agree with all his reportage, I do
recall some fond memories of him, both personal and "as told to."
It is the "as told to" that brings him back to mind. Harvey was a much
sought after convention and dinner speaker on current affairs and
But, for Des Moines area fans, I recall an anecdote told to me by Claire
Grant when he was manager (owner?) of KCBC radio in the 1950s. KCBC was an
ABC network affiliate then. And Claire told of a time when Harvey was to
speak in Des Moines. He would be in town long enough to need to have a place
to originate his morning newscasts. As Claire told it, this resulted in a
forwarded list of "Mr. Harvey's needs" in order that he be properly prepared
to give his listeners the days news as he saw it. His office requested
copies of the day's newspapers be supplied as well as access to the news
wire teletypes for their content. And, he would need space to prepare,
supplies such as coffee and snacks, a reservation at the best
hotel, etc., etc.
Claire took this all in and shared it with the rest of the staff of KCBC,
which then originated from a nice little, and I mean little, one story
building out west at about 20-something Ingersoll Ave. They all got a
chuckle out of the Harvey staff thinking the station even had a news wire
machine, which it didn't. Nor suitable office space and a "lounge" stocked
with real food and drink. It was deemed appropriate for Claire to fire off a
response to Mr. Harvey's Chicago-based staff. He did. He recalled the reply
as promising that KCBC would try to find copies of such newspapers as the
Wall St. Journal and New
York Times and Chicago Tribune on the day they were published. But, that
would be hard, you see, in a "little town" like Des Moines which didn't
exactly see urgency in the days news the way Paul Harvey did. Clair did
assure Harvey's secretary that a reservation had been confirmed at the local
hotel down the street that had a nice
bathroom on each and every floor.
You get the idea. They pulled his chain good. And it resulted in a hurry-up
call, Claire related, to be sure this KCBC group were really going to be
able to meet the great broadcaster's customary wants and needs for
originating newscasts as necessary from Des Moines while he was in town.
Claire Grant also was a car enthusiast with a vintage Model T
touring car that ran. So, when the day arrived that Paul Harvey came to
town, Claire met him up at the airport in the Model T. Clair recalled with
an inner glow the arrival of the celebrity newscaster coming down Fleur
Drive from the airport to the Hotel Fort Des Moines in the back of that
canvas-topped Ford tourer.
But, as Claire told it, Harvey was a good sport. He ended his newscast
originating at KCBC by mentioning the wonderful reception and treatment he
was given, closing with the comment that Claire Grant's KCBC had certainly
made an impact on a star. "They reminded me, they again taught me,
humility," was the way Harvey put it to his audience.
And that is the rest of the story as I recall it being shared after work
one evening in that comfortable, warm and easy-going little local music and
news station that was KCBC out west on Ingersoll Ave.
We corresponded last year and at the time I asked if you knew the where about's of Russ Odegaard.
I was going to go into the archives at KCCI and see if I could glean some unforgettable photos for the DM broadcaster website but,
alas, both Bob Ogburn and I were let go at the end of the year, given early retirement so that goal of getting fotos for the site has been downsized. Last week both Bob and I went to Marshalltown together and found one Russ Odegaard living in the Marshalltown Veterans Home. We arrived unanounced and he was delighted to see us. He is now wheelchair bound as he said his legs dont work to well but his spirits were still there. We did quite a bit of reminiscing and for the most part his memory is very good but there were some rather large holes where he couldn't remember things. He said he woke up one day and there was a scar running up and down his left leg that he has no idea how that got there. I think he damaged his leg while at North High and re-injured it while teaching in China before returning home. I do remember some of these things and our stories didn't quite match on a few instances but it was just wonderful to talk to him again. His eyes are bright blue as ever and would definitely enjoy company. We couldnt get his phone number, he isn't on the internet but his room is on the fourth floor at the Marshalltown Veterans Home.
If you or anybody you know have interest in a visit, you might call the Vetrans Home at (641) 752-1501. Dave Legg
You may well not remember me, but I made a coffee cup stop at KIOA as news director in 1986, and broke into radio in the 70s in Iowa--I remember hearing you on KSTT (Quad Cities) when you were PD there. I remember we talked a bit one Saturday night when you were filling in on the oldies show at KIOA.
I've been in the East for a long time--I'm an anchor at the Wall Street Journal Radio Network and occasionally, I'm told that I pop up on KRNT. A few weeks ago in the course of some web-surfing, I landed upon desmoinesbroadcasting.com, have been back a few times since, and found it very interesting. Last night, during some slow moments at work, I listened to the Peter McLane interview you did several years ago--there was a lot of depth there, and Peter is obviously a very compelling talker--I had a brief phone conversation with him in the 70's but had never heard him talk at any length until I heard your interview.
Thanks for the memories--I've always counted myself lucky that I started in Iowa, and got to function around a lot of people who took a lot of pride in what they do.
One more radio anecdote - this time as a listener. I'm proud to say I was a 45 rpm winner in one of those KIOA record promos where you had to be the third caller or the fifth caller. The number of calls varied. I won "Five Feet High And Rising" by Johnny Cash. I had no idea who Johnny Cash was when I called. Sure enough, the record came in the mail, just like when I ordered other novelties in the mail: A Sergeant Preston pedometer, a miniature submarine that went up and down in water when you put baking soda in it, from Kellogg's Corn Flakes.
Even though I'd never heard of Johnny Cash, I played that record over and over and over because every time I played it, I couldn't believe I was that lucky. After a while, even though Cash wasn't Rock 'N' Roll, I liked him.
My first 45 rpm record purchase, from a record store near Yonkers downtown that only sold 45s, was "Topsy, Part I and II" by Cozy Cole. Between Cozy Cole and Little Richard's band and The Crickets, I taught myself how to play drums in my bedroom, reckoning out by the sounds where exactly the cymbals and drums had to be set up. My second 45 record purchase was "Chanson D'Amour" by Art and Dotty Todd. My third was "Language of Love" by John D. Loudermilk. I still have most of my KIOA/KSO-inspired 45s.
That Johnny Cash 45 saved me from embarrassment when I went to my Junior Prom. When I went to pick up my date, her father answered the door. He presented a threatening vision - greased-back straight coal black hair, a white undershirt, a pencil-thin moustache. He looked real hard and tough, and he didn't look like he liked me very much. I quietly and politely sat down at his kitchen table and hoped that my date would be ready, soon. She wasn't. "She always takes forever to get ready!" he quipped, but that didn't help the tension.
Then he casually turned to me. "...ya like Johnny Cash?"
A moment, then I brightened. "uh...yeah," I answered. And he put an album on his record player. Then we were friends. My lucky call and KIOA'd saved me.
Irving Nelson Canfield
It sure was wonderful and it brought back many fond memories to run across the photo on : DesMoinesBroadcasting.com
That I took way back then. It was one of my most memorable photographs.
Dick Vance of KSO and his girlfriend Bobbie Mattson were great chums of mine in those days.
It was my corvette though. I think it was just Dick's way of giving Ben Sorenson, (his biggest client
in those days), a plug.
I raced that vette in the SCCA and won many mid-west road races in many states in1963.
Much to Dick's dismay, I moved on to Las Vegas in 1966 (When it was a small town in the desert), and progressed to a some-what notable international career in up-scale photography.
I read with sorrow and yet a smile about the death of Wayne Olson. Our
association went back to his very first job in radio, that of night shift
engineer, when there was such, and as a Sports Reader on KWBG, Boone, Iowa.
Sports Reader? Yes. I was the announcer for that night shift, back in 1951,
maybe earlier. We were both not that far out of high school, me in Boone and
he in Story City. As co-workers, we became friends who looked after each
other in the employment field. He moved on to KJFJ, Webster City, when I
moved on to KFJB in Marshalltown. I didn't stay there long; didn't fit their
format any more than they fit mine. I was on the lookout for work and called
Wayne to learn that KJFJ was looking for me, based on his recommendation.
So, we hooked up again. Perhaps too happily. We almost got fired one
Saturday for our back-and-forth during the noon hour news, farm report and
what ever else we read. But, we didn't. The owners, it turned out, liked us
better than they liked the manager.
We wound up at WHO one after the other. I was talked into auditioning there
by another KWBG one-time staffer, Bob Graham who was pulling the morning WHO
radio announce shift when I had him play a record we didn't have in our
library and recorded it off our CONELRAD receiver in the KJFJ control room.
(Those receivers were mandatory in all stations as a Civil Defense link. WHO
was the Iowa link resource with its big Clear Channel voice). Anyway, I did
as Bob Graham suggested and, wonders, was hired. Wayne became work-less a
little later and I convinced him to give WHO a try. He was, of course, a
natural for their announce staff. The initials did it. And he settled in for
a pretty good run as the all-night DJ on the 50,000 watt Voice of the Middle
West. Even got a call one night thanking him by the performer of his theme;
Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll."
I'll tip one or two to a lot of fond memories I have for the years when
Wayne H. Olson and I shared gigs during our careers in broadcasting. His
charm, quirky sense of humor and friendship will long be missed.
Added Dec 1, 2008
Lee Harris was at WHO during my time there (which was 1955-1965). Lee did
some radio but was more known for his
"Sock Hop" TV program for the younger set and his commercial and record
spinning work. As I recall, he came from KIOA just before I arrived from
KJFJ, Webster City. Lee and Peggy moved on to Colorado after about 10-12
years at WHO. I visited him at one of the Denver TV stations in my later
role as media relations for Beech Aircraft Corp. He left broadcasting to
move into resort management in the mountains, I think.
There were a great many very interesting people before and during the time I
was at WHO. The late Bob Moore, a radio actor turned announcer, his wife,
Harriet, who also had some acting time in the days of the soap operas, etc.
Archie Leonard who died of a heart attack on stage during a Little Theater
performance. Jerry Carr, whom I had "arrested" while he attempted to do a
live introduction to a movie I was directing (a sideline). It happened in
the street in front of the studios one Saturday night. They, and others
from their time, deserve mention and honor in any Des Moines broadcasting
Vern Modeland (KWBG; KFJB; KJFJ; WHO AM-TV circa 1950-1965)
Marion County, AR
Great site- Brings back memories of the late 50's , early 60's. One that comes to mind when I was a 9th grader about 1958-59. I had a little crystal set that looked like a space ship- the antenna came out of the nose. The alligator clip worked fine on the bed springs and the folks didn't know the ear piece was in all night. One night about 2:00 am I was listening to Doug McKinnon as I usually did. He said something like this. "Don't know how cold it will get tonight but if you guys have any brass monkeys in your yard , you had better be bringing them in!" Wow, did that ever get a negative response the next day from the prudes of Des Moines. Wasn't there some kind of suspension given or at least talked about? Now, to think what some stations get away with now!
Also, I remember well listening to WHO at night on my transistor while at basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio. That was great. Thanks for the Site.
Denny Reynolds '61 Tech High Des Moines
Editor's note: I purchased a replica of one of those rocket crystal sets at Restoration Hardware a few years ago. Even the tinsel on the Christmas tree worked as an antenna. Ray
While growing up in Des Moines from 1946 - 1951 (after which, my family moved to CA), I used listen to the Al Rockwell music shows late at night. But one of my favorites was a disc jockey named Hoby Wolfe. I don't recall what station he was on but I liked his show. I even won some records from his library on one program.
Not long ago, I entered his name on Google and, lo and behold, I got information on him that lead me to his place of residence and a phone number! I called the number and left a message asking if he were the same person from the old radio show in Des Moines in the late '40s. He returned my call and YES, it was THE Hoby Wolfe from Des Moines! He is in his 80s now, but his voice is still strong and sounded familiar. He still writes for a local newspaper and manages a small airport. We had a nice conversation and he was very cordial and happy to talk about the old days in Des Moines! What a great surprise and pleasure for me!
Gary S. Smith
Hi George and Ray,
First, great job you and your cohorts are doing on the website! As one who grew up in Des Moines broadcasting in the '50's, I really enjoy the memories.
Briefly, my Des Moines broadcasting background:
I started as a kid piano soloist on Bill Riley's "Hey BOB!" show from the Paramount theatre in the very early '50's. Marian Crane was my piano teacher, and she was the pianist for the show. I also appeared on Bill's early talent show from the old KRNT radio studios on the top floor of the R&T building. From this early exposure to radio,
I got a very part-time job spinning records (and commercials on ET's) for Bill Riley on his "Bill Riley, the KRNT Moneyman" show from the old KRNT studios . Don Bell was doing mornings with news by Paul Rhoades, and Gordon Gammack did an afternoon newscast. Dan Lawrence and Larry McKeever were staff announcers. Dick Covey was program director, Guy Koeningsberg was Production Director, and Al Rockwell was Music Director. Buford Cannon, Frank Ligouri, Art Peavey, John Timberlake and George Luick were some of the engineers.
I was attending Tech High School when KRNT applied for their television license, and Charlie Quentin, Chief Engineer of KRNT, and Jim Crooks, Charlie's assistant for getting ready for television, thought I might have a future as an engineer. Jim showed me the amazing RCA TK-11 television camera and the other equipment in the basement of the KRNT theatre. There was a makeshift television studio there to allow KRNT engineers and on-air folks to practice before the FCC granted the license.
Earlier, while still in junior high school at Warren Harding, I had formed a band called "The Simple Seven" that eventually had a weekly television show on KGTV Channel 17, owned by Rib Mountain Broadcasters. Lou Epton, the KGTV weatherman at the time, was host. We helped KGTV eventually go broke back in those early days when you had to have a tube-type UHF converter to see the station. (Mary Jane Chinn, who sang, and her husband, Gary, who played guitar, also performed on KGTV back then. Dick and Beverly Vance were also on-air at KGTV at that time. Al Hariu was the Chief Engineer.)
Bob Dillon was KRNT's avuncular general manager then, and Mr. Dillon thought I had promise in the business, so he saw to it that I was hired as a floor director when the KRNT TV license was granted. In the interim, I assisted during the building process of the studios adjacent to the KRNT Theater where the KRNT-FM transmitter had been located.
After I made my right hand famous by pouring beer and breakfast cereals during those early live commercials, Charlie Quentin hired me as a summer replacement engineer for several summers during and after my high school student days. In this role, I worked both KRNT radio and television. Assistant Chief Engineer, Jake Sneller, was my boss. Very often on radio I worked sign-on with Smokey Smith, Don Bell, Don Soliday and the morning soap operas. I was often the engineer with Russ Van Dyke for his "What Do You Say" radio interview program, live from Younkers department store. I was Walt Reno's first engineer when he took over after Don left. I also did work for Don Bell on his television "Hop" and for his dance events around the area in places like the Val Air Ballroom.
After high school, I worked some for both KSO with Sam Mazza, Chief Engineer, and again with Don Bell who had gone to KSO. I also worked for a time for KWDM/KWKY with Bob Kindred as General Manager and Werner Schwartz, Chief Engineer. This was just after the Pachalafaka promotion, "Kwickey's Coming!". I was actually Program Director for a short time, made even shorter by a sports programming snafu that cost me the job.
I attended Iowa State College in Ames. During my time there, I was Chief (and only) Engineer for KASI in Ames. I also did an afternoon show while Bill Evans (of WGN fame) owned the station. Bill Ray ( former news director at WBBM, and first to air a telephone call) bought the station from Bill Evans. Bill Ray went on the the FCC after that.
OK, I don't want to bore you with my reminiscences, but I wanted to give you some of my background before I presumed to correct an error in your history of KWDM. Way back when, sometime after Al Coupee left KRNT, Max Rauer also told me that Steve Allen had worked for KWDM while Allen was a student at Drake University. I later thought that was really nice to know since I had also worked for KWDM and my brother graduated from Drake Pharmacy and Law Schools.
HOWEVER: About twelve years ago, as Director of Engineering for Sandusky Radio while living here in Seattle,
one of our stations, KIXI, engaged Steve Allen as a spokesman. Steve and his wife Jayne were often in the Seattle area since they had a son here. (By the way, both Steve Allen and his wife Jayne Meadows, as accomplished and famous as they were and are, were exceptionally kind and gracious people to work with.) On one occasion after a recording session, I wanted to personally confirm Max's edifying report, so I asked Steve Allen whether he recalled working at KWDM while a student at Drake University in Des Moines. He did not recognize the call letters, and said he had not worked there, but he added that he had worked part-time for WHO while a student at Drake.
So there you are, a first person report. Sorry Max, I had to ask.
What a fascinating site, however, even a boy from Ohio couldn't help
overlook that you paid little attention to one of the most famous
broadcasters to pass through Iowa, KIOA Sandy Shore later moved to the
west coast, took on the air name of Mark Eliot and became one of the most
recognizable voiceover men in the business. He performed the voiceovers
for almost every Disney production in the last ten years. To further
support this claim, please log onto www.reelradio.com and search the name
Thanks again for this fascinating website. I have been surfing it for
about three hours and have enjoyed every minute.
Editor's Note: You will find Sandy Shore under the Dic Youngs KIOA Good Guy Reunions section. I think Sandy/Marc came back for every one. We are working on doing more with Sandy.
This past summer 26 July 06 did a 30 year later morning show with Lou. RG and Heather. Wow, what an experience. People calling after thirty years to say, hi!
Lou put me in touch with Bob Ogburn. Sent him tape of show. Just found the orignal KGGO Logo and pinwheel and faxed to Lou.
If you do not remember me, I was doing afternoon drive news with Perry and you were morings, I think.
I worked at WOI-TV, KASI, KWBG, KISU, KSO, and KGGO and was in and out of ISU's TCA program from 1964 until 1970 or 71. Know so many people on the site. Surprised to find me in a short KGGO intro in 1974 as The Dr. Lex personna was forming.
It's been fun E-mailing Bob about this thing or that. Wanted to say Hi to you. I got out of radio in 1984 for a variety of reasons. Just walked away
one day. It was so at home, the stuio thing, atter 25 years of not being in one. Broadcasting was my life, totally for the first 30 years, anyway.
I own a coffee shop in Phoenix now with a partner. Working more than ever and it's fun! Not like broadcasting, though.
Thanks for the site and hopefully will hear from you, soon!
Would you please post this note on your site in hopes of helping me find a person!?
John Gallo is a guy who did "weekend swing" at Q102 in Des Moines in the early 90's! He also worked full time "afternoon drive" at a station in Oskaloosa, Iowa known as 101.5 Kiss FM.
Can someone help me find him? My email is email@example.com
Jones Radio Networks/Denver, CO
George and Ray,
I just returned from the Iowa State Fair where I purchased at Pioneer Hall a 10 1/2" X 17" weekly radio listing for programs on WHO radio for February, 1944. I don't know about the two of you, but I wasn't born until six years later!
One could hear the news with Jack Shelley and Bob Burlingame and the markets with Herb Plambeck. In the middle of the listings is an ad for a program called "Your America" that aired from 4:00 until 4:30 P.M. on Saturdays sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad Company. At the bottom of the ad, readers were encouraged to "Join the WHO War Bond Club!" Occident Flour sponsored a program called "Virginia Roberts" that aired from 11:30 until 11:45 A.M., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Virginia Roberts gave "timely tips on wartime home economics and interesting revelations about the lives of world-famous people". Everyday, listeners could tune in to hear NBC network programming that included such shows as "Fibber McGee and Molly," "Red Skelton," "Bob Hope," and "Amos 'n' Andy."
So much WHO radio history on this one sheet of paper! Perhaps Van Harden, Jim Zabel, and others would like to see this. Would you like this for scanning and inclusion on the Des Moines Broadcasting web site? If so, just let me know how I can be of help.
Great site. I enjoyed the visit and tour of clicks.
Coincidentally, just a week ago, RadioDailyNews.com honored Ron Reagan as the "Radio Person of the Day." His father was one of Iowa's great radio people. Ron is currently working as a talk show host at 710 AM KIRO in Seattle, as well as at MSNBC as a political commentator, I'm sure you know.
Keep up your good work!
I would like to thank you for such a fine web site, I am sure it takes a lot of work. I have lots of friends back in Iowa etc that follow the site.
I now live in Washington state, but my roots are still in Des Moines. I received my amateur license in 1954 and my first class in 1957 at age 16. I attended Des Moines Tech from 57 to 59. Byron Mann the electronic instructor said if I would get my first class I could work at KWDM transmitter. From Sept 57 to June 59 I worked most every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Howard Andreasen also was so nice to hire me during the summer of 58 to help move the FM station to the new location and start installing the TV transmitter. After graduating from Tech he help me land work at KRNT and WOI. In the summer of 59 I worked most all positions at KRNT in radio and TV. Spent a lot of nights out at the radio transmitter on SE 22nd. In the summer of 60 I worked at the WOI transmitter SW of Ames. In those few years I was able to buy a new car and pay for my college education.
I enjoyed the pictures of the old KRNT radio site and the few pictures of KDPS. Would love to see pictures of the transmitters at KDPS and KWDM. Also if anyone knows the story of what was the standby AM transmitter in 1960 at KRNT. It was built into the wall across from the RCA transmitter shown in your pictures. The story that was told to me was that it was home made but sure look like a factory built unit. Probably more site built, I can still remember the rotary generator in the basement that I believe powered the filaments.
In your E-mail section is a message from Ed Carney, we went to school together at Tech and I have pictures of us in a year book and I think he was at my 16th birthday party. Would enjoy talking with Ed again.
I have a few pictures from the old Tech of the FM transmitter and lots of newspaper articles in regard to the new TV installation. My mother kept a scrapbook so naturally lot of the articles are about me. I have all of these pictures on CD and could mail them to you if you are interested. I only have dial up service so it would be hard to E-mail all the pictures.
Again thanks for all the work everyone is doing to keep the memory alive.
I accidently stumbled onto this site (DesMoinesBroadcasting.com) and, like others, am delighted for the trip down memory lane. Lots of photos and audio clips make this a super interesting site and you guys are doing a phenomenal job. Many thanks for what you do and I will check back often.
I am very thankful for the Broadcast community in Des Moines in the late 50's early 60's. Part-time participation in Broadcasting enabled me to attend ISU in Ames and follow my dream. It started in Junior H.S. when a 9th grade course (C.L.P.) required the students to visit and interview people in various jobs. A friend and I decided to interview "Walt Reno" (KRNT). How wonderful he was not only to grant the interview but while he was On-the-Air. Both my friend and I were already interested in radio, and our visit with Walt pretty well set our worlds in motion. My friend's name you might recognize. He is Cal Stout and he is featured on this website (if possible, I would love to connect with him again if you have his email address). Cal went on to East H.S. and was really hyped as I remember about broadcasting on air. I was more tuned in to the Technical side of radio and for that reason, I attended Tech H.S. and signed up for the Electronics Core Area and later entered a co-op program at KDPS. That's where I met Russ Odegaard and he introduced me to Bob Brown, chief engineer at KCBC. Bob had me cut a couple of commercials and then offered me an announcers job. It's funny how things worked out. I was on staff in front of the microphone through 1965, working mostly the midnight to 6am shift and subbing when necessary in the afternoons. It was a tough haul going to ISU full time and working 6 hours every night, but I am very grateful to Don Purdy, Claire Grant and Bob Brown for providing the life-line I needed to pursue a higher education and a career in radio. Not broadcast radio, but communications radio. I spent nearly 37 years with Motorola, researching, designing and manufacturing portable two-way radios like those you have seen used by firemen, policemen and many federal agents in the Public Safety arena. It's been a great ride and I am pleased to have the chance here to thank the gentlemen mentioned above for their encouragement and guidance.
I don't have much in the way of memorabilia, but I've included a few photo's of the KCBC and KDPS studios that you may include on your site if you like.
Best regards and keep up the great work on this treasure,
May 29, 2006
I used to listen to KIOA during the late 60's while living at my grandmother's house in southwest Iowa and
often wondered if their format had remained the same after leaving Iowa in the early 70's. They used to be
one of the major midwestern broadcasters of good ol' rock-n-roll, along with a station in Kansas City (WHB),
Little Rock (KAAY) Oklahoma City (KOMA) and a station in Chicago which I now forget (WLS?)
I also attended four years at Drake through '72 and used to marvel at a particular program aired "after-
hours" on KFMG which I would like more info about, if anyone else remembers it. I forget the program's
name, but it began with a musical montage which incorporated Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra, The
Beatle's Flying (Magical Mystery Tour), Simon & Garfunkel's Anji and was wondering if anyone remembers
more about it.
KFMG used to break from their classical format for this evening fare and provided quite the contrast from
the normally-staid and traditional musical theme to what was clearly cutting-edge music which only teenagers
and college kids could love.
I sure miss those days and have fond memories of the mood provided by Des Moines broadcasters provided.
I also remember hearing a now-famous radio program in 1971 on the Des Moines public schools station
(it was FM, although I forget the call letters) from National Public Radio for the first time. It was called All Things
Considered, and is still on the air. I see it's still broadcast on WOI in Ames, but am told that the Des Moines
public school station "is" no more.
Thanks for your great website and for the historical links and info you have posted. It's a great online resource!
Anchorage, AK 99522
(Drake Alumnus: 1972)
The Des Moines Broadcasting Site is GREAT! Cannot get away from it. Reading about the old KSO station and listening to the air clips brings back many memories. Always liked listening to you when you sit in for Dic. It's great hearing the old music and the history that goes with it especially when you have lived it. I feel that the radio and Iowa history and the oldies just go hand in hand.
KSO was the station to listen to up here in Hardin county in the 50s and 60s. We could always pick it up. KSO would never cut its power until 10:00 or 11:00 pm if I remember right. I grew up and went to HS in Alden Ia., the hot cruising spot was Iowa Falls on a Saturday night. Once or twice a summer a bunch of us would have to go to Des Moines on a Saturday night a cruise the loop .What a great time. Well could go on forever, keep up the great work and I will keep listening and reading. Always fun.
Thanks for the MEMORIES!!!!!!!
HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!!!
Hi George and Ray,
I just ran across your wonderful site yesterday while
searching for old radio station jingles. Thank you
for all of the volunteer labor that you put into this
I was a Des Moines resident the first 11 years of my
life and a member of the first generation of kids that
grew up with television. With a cub scout den, I
appeared as a guest on Bill Riley's afternoon kids'
program on KRNT TV. The show was tape-delayed 1 day
so you could see yourself, and as many friends as you
could gather, "on TV". I also was a faithful watcher
of that show. After interviewing each of us on his
show, Bill took us on a tour of the KRNT studios. I
still remember the huge, desk size, reel-to-reel video
recorder they had.
As a kid, I remember my parents frequently pointing
out a big tower as we left Des Moines (toward Ames?)
and exclaiming "that's KGTV!". I didn't know it was
Des Moines' first TV station until I saw an article on
KSDM-TV in Wikipedia:
Des Moines' first television station, KGTV, signed on
channel 17 in 1953. (WOI-TV in Ames was the only
television station serving central Iowa at that point,
as WHO-TV and KRNT-TV, now KCCI, had yet to sign on.)
Financial problems, coupled with the fact that very
few television sets were able to get UHF signals at
the time, forced KGTV off the air after less than a
year. The KGTV calls now reside on the ABC affiliate
in San Diego, California, broadcasting on channel 10.
Channel 17 remained silent for nearly 30 years until
KCBR, "The Great Entertainer," signed on in March 1983
as Iowa's first independent television station. KCBR's
call letters were changed to KDSM ("DSM" is the IATA
airport code for the Des Moines International Airport)
two years later, and in 1987 KDSM became one of the
charter affiliates of the Fox Network.
I'm attaching a scan of a Kodachrome slide of myself
(age 2 1/2) at Christmas time 1954. I'm leaning
against my grandparents' Motorola TV with a UHF
converter box on top (in the Beaverdale section of Des
Moines). Of course TV dials in the 50's only had VHF
so you had to get an external box if you wanted UHF
(for KGTV, channel 17, in this case). It also
explains their unusual looking 4-loop rooftop aerial:
it was for UHF-only, to pick up KGTV. You are welcome
to use the pic for your web site if you like.
Even though my family moved to Calif. in 1963, your
site goes back far enough to bring back many great
memories for me. I remember listening to Walt Reno as
KRNT's morning man. My mom went to high school with
him and exchanged Christmas cards with him through his
Las Vegas years. Russ Van Dyke was a member of our
As a kid I remember stopping by the KSO "fishbowl" on
Ingersoll (early '60s) on my bike, watching the DJs
spin records and picking up at top 40s list and info
on their latest contest.
The KRNT tower downtown had the famous "weather
beacon" (red, green, or yellow lights) to warn of bad,
good, or middling weather. They had a rhyme but I
can't quite dredge it up right now. Something like
"weather beacon green: no change foreseen, weather
beacon red: stormy weather ahead, weather beacon
As a young teenager in Santa Barbara Calif, I had a
hobby of keeping a log of a.m. radio stations I could
pick up at night from long distances. Well, "the
clear channel voice of the middle west", WHO, came in
regularly at 1040 kilocycles with its 50,000 watt
Keep up the great work!
Thank you for a trip down memory lane. I grew up on E 38th St just down the street from KSO on Broadway. My father, now 90 years old, still lives there. My biggest memories of KSO as a child were that I didn't need a radio to listen. KSO was heard in the furnace pipes throughout our house. I used to ride horses over to the transmitter and play around. If my memories serve me right, the studio wasn't there until later. The studio's were downtown across from the Dodge Dealer.
As I was older, I knew Capt Jack through the amateur radio club and I had an airplane out at North Field as he did. I sponsored a 2 meter repeater that was used for the Pope's visit in 79. I think my brother Dave had "Mr Dennis" (Captain Jack) as an instructor at Tech around 60 to 63. I was a 70 grad at Tech in the Aviation core area. I wonder, if the fellow teacher that got him into flying was Mr. Wiles or Mr. Lossner.
I now live in Florida and for some reason found your site doing a web search ( I have now forgotten what I was searching for) I am happy that I did. The memories... Sorenson's, The Sweater girl... Wow, I miss it.
Hello and thanks for putting that site up. I've been sitting here all
night pawing through it. I worked for WHO-TV and WOI-TV in the early
sixties (I'm in Maryland now).
The only things that pop up at me immediately:
1. KGTV is just KGTV, not KGTV-TV. You don't have a terminal date but
it died around 1956, after the DuMont network did and after the freeze
was lifted and KRNT and WHO could get their stations up. KGTV was an ABC
affiliate, but as long as there were four networks we could sustain four
stations, sort of; KGTV had no ABC competition while WOI-TV was running a
DuMont show. KGTV was launched during the freeze; you could get a
Construction Permit during the freeze for a UHF station but not VHF.
KRNT and WHO had to stand and watch while KGTV launched and WOI continued
to air the best of four networks, minting money every day.
2. "Sound bite" is the term you want, not "sound byte." Someone has
spent too much time with computers.
Thanks for your website--it's looking great as usual.
I have plenty of memories about local broadcasting in the Des Moines which I can share. Some of them were spurred by the picture of the badge of the Kadipus Club (which aired on KDPS TV in the 1960s and early 1970s). If I'm not mistaken, the fellow who appeared on that show was Captain Redbeard, a ventriloquist who performed with a dummy named Seasick. They would go to places such as a showboat in Clinton, Iowa, a lock-and-dam in Dubuque and the Des Moines Ice Arena. They got their guidance from a computer, to which they talked, but I don't think the computer talked back to them aside from lights flashing on and off. Please correct me if I'm wrong on my memories about this show. Thanks.
Ray: Great Site!
I am doing a history of the Des Moines Dragway which existed from 1957 to 1967. I would love to find some audio of anything pertaining to it - Race coverage or ads promoting events etc. I have checked with WHO and KIOA, but they don't have anything. With 3,000 people there opening day, July 14, 1957 and 2,000 there on the weekends into the early 60s, I would think there would have been some media coverage. I have video of the opening day ceremonies with Des Moines Mayor Ray Mills officiating. A man is holding a microphone, but of coarse the video was the old 8mm with no sound. Thanks for your hard working preserving Des Moines Broadcasting. If anyone can help me please contact me. Thanks
Larry Latham, Des Moines
Just moved to Orlando, Florida last week to begin a career change and was zipping around the net when I found your web site (stumbled upon, actually). Your site brings back memories rivaled only by the reckless abandon during my college days, and working nights and weekends at TIC-FM, Hartford, CT.
I worked on-air, 7 - Mid at Q-102 from '89 to '93 alongside the likes of the Q-Zoo, Jon Drake (one of the nicest, most down to earth radio guys you'll ever meet), production genius Steve Smith (how unbelievable were those Farley Family Fun spots?), "Jimmy Boom-Boom", Sara Marx, Pete McRae (you never knew where Pete was gonna go with his train of thought...some days he was way out there), Leif Erickson, office manager Sharon Beninato...the list and memories go on and on.
I made it back to town some 8 or 10 years ago and was happy to find Johnnies Hall of Fame still standing. Many a night/morning spent there after work, on the weekends, whenever they would have us (Lee Martin, Sharon, Sara, Mike Whitsell, Jimmy...). Just a great hometown feel to the place. Taste of Thailand still there? How many different beers did they have to choose from, 100...1000? Great food, great fun!
So many stories come flooding back, some that scare the crap out of me, especially the marathon days of the Iowa State Fair. I can safely say I don't miss being crammed into the "Q-102" boom box and forced to broadcast a radio show everyday during the run of the fair. It was torture. But, on those rare occassions when you could get women to lift up their shirts and flash you seemed to make things more tolerable.
I'm glad I found the site, keep up the good work, and I'll definitely keep an eye on it in the future. Lots of fun...enjoyed it!
Hi Ray, back in the early 70's I worked in the photo department at KRNT-TV where we processed the 16mm news film that was shot for the newscasts. We also shot, developed and mounted the 35 mm slides that were used as station id's. I found this one in the bottom of a drawer recently and thought you would enjoy it. I also found some B&W negatives from a photo shoot at KMFG radio. As soon as I scan them I'll send you a copy. Still love the site, keep up the good work.
Just a note to let you know how much enjoyment I have gotten in listening to some of the sound bytes and just reading the historical information. When KIOA made its appearance in May, 1957, I was 15 years old, so most of this information is relevant to me.
My sister and I also used to go to the KRNT studio on some Saturday mornings and watch Don Bell and Bill Riley's talent sprouts. I also attended several Hey Bob shows at KRNT Theater.
Again, just a note to let you know how much I appreciate all the work you and George Davison have done in constructing this website. It means a great deal to me.
Hank Bane (A 1960 Roosevelt graduate)
Great website, I check it out at least once a week. My earliest
memories of WHO are my dad listening to the talk shows in the late 1970's in
the car. Two names from this period came to me over the weekend: Jim Frye
and Susan Bray. Any idea what happened to them? It would be great to read
more about that era in WHO's history. It seems to me they also utilized a
lot of NBC correspondants at that time too for customized reports. To the
best of my recollection they dropped the talk format sometime in the early
80's and went to an M.O.R. format.
I enjoy your site very much, and check it regularly. I used to work at KRNT-TV many years ago, so looking at back pictures and articles interest me greatly. I have a question though. As young kids, my brothers and I enjoyed "Gravesend Manor", on WOI-TV. I've surfed the web for years trying to find old pictures and articles about the old Saturday horror show, but can't find anything. Can you help?
Thank you, and keep up the great work!
My eyes are burning from spending the past two hours reading every post, but I can't stop! What a hoot! This site is truly amazing and brings back so many memories, of growing up just north of Des Moines and listening to different radio personalities, like KIOA and the Good Guys, Moffitt and Morgan in the morning on KGGO. I was lucky enough to eventually turn my love of radio into a career, with a few brief stints in Des Moines, as morning show host on Young Country 98.3, and production director of the VERY defunct KJJC The Jock. But some of my favorite memories come from my very first radio job in "Big D," as a part-time guy at what was then Q-102 in 1990, doing occasional overnights and also filling in for the wonderful Lee Martin. One thing Lee did not teach me was how to get to work on time in the morning! I remember many times him stumbling in around 5:31am for his 5:30am shift, looking like he'd just crawled out of bed. But as soon as the mic light went on, you'd have thought Lee had been up for hours!
I also remember as a pre-teen meeting the imposing Russ Van Dyke as I was walking into the old KRNT TV studios to film a segment of "Church Of The Air." It was dark and the very tall Russ was wearing a raincoat and fedora and looked like Max Von Sydow standing outside the Regan house in the movie poster for "The Exorcist."
As for me I'm back on the air, doing mornings in Fort Dodge. It's great up here but I do miss listening to and working with those extremely talented Des Moines personalities, like J. Michael McKoy, Cal Bierman, Tony Conrad, Max Shaeffer, Eddie and Big John and Andy from KJJY, Pam Washington, Jeff Delveaux...the list is endless. Des Moines is truly blessed to have so much talent, and we are all very lucky to have this web site. Thank you!
Hot Country K-97
I check this site every day, hoping to see or hear something new from the rich history of Des Moines broadcasting.
Please keep it coming, and keep up the good work.
I am a devoted fan.
I ran across your website today and was very surprised
and so pleased to see some photos of the KEZT control
room and various prod rooms. It was a dream to visit
and stop in at the studios on the interstate near
Ames. I never got the chance, and have been in regret
not trying to contact them, due to the chances of any
items surviving through the years and the change in
To be honest, KEZT is the sole reason I have devoted
most of my life to the preservation and location of
any and all "Beautiful-Easy" listening music.
I formed "American Beautiful Research" in 1991. A
non-profit org. that devotes energy and time and great
expense to saving the music we knew as easy listening.
We have a large community out here that has a group
on Yahoo, and a fan club. Many of the programmers
alike are involved to keep the music alive. S.R.P.'s
Phil Stout, Marlin Taylor of Bonneville, and as
mentioned Bill Wertz of Kala. Its truly a music of
large groups of fans out there..
Granted the format has died off and Des Moines has
given up the ghost as they say to this music genre.
We are playing this format and a hybrid on KGUD in
Longmont, Colorado a large portion of the music once
played on KEZT from the IBMA/IMA. We also play the
large "ULTRA Bonnevile-Jones" format from Seattle that
was once aired by Steve VanOrt's KMXD in Ankeny.
I do miss the Supurb Quality of the station and would
do anything to obtain copies of some of the great
spots that you aired for my collection. Des Moines
radio was truly world class, and still is in many
P.S. please listen in to the "Breeze" music format we
are running from Crown Point, Indiana. You will hear
the old Kala "KEZT" music format running, We stream
24-7. We will be moving the stream soon, so keep
listening. Or visit the website at:
I enjoyed everything about this website. I listened to KSO and KIOA throughout my teenage and high school years. As I was listening, I wondered what has ever happened to some of the wonderful old advertising songs that were played on these stations. One that particularly came to mind was the song for the long gone Butterworth Tire. I can still sing every word to this jingle. I also remember the jingle to United Federal Savings of Des Moines. Can these be found and added to this website? Just a thought.
Thank you for this wonderful website,
Your little clip from Chickenman " WELLL........" prompted me to go on a search and find the chickenman site. I was probably one of the biggest chickenman fans there ever was during the summer/fall of '66 before I went to the Navy.
I ordered the complete set and am looking forward to a great set of memories. I just played the teaser episode for my 16 year old daughter and she's now looking forward to it, too!
I am really impressed with the amount and quality of work you have put into the site. I've listened to your interviews with Peter McLane and remember him from KWMT/KIOA, as I grew up in the Fort Dodge area!
Thanks for all your work and I'll continue to drop by the site once in a while and enjoy!
Roger Ryon (old KISU ISU Student Radio Program/Co-manager -- 1960's)
Your site is wonderful. It's been a long time since I've lived in Des Moines, but I check back to your site often for a taste of home. I especially like hearing the old jingles and airchecks. I worked in Des Moines at the Heritage Cable studio out at the edge of town for a number of years, and worked with Bill Reilly and George Mills on a one-hour special I produced called "Remembering the Iowa State Fair".
Now--a couple of questions; I'm working on a short film called "Lost Cinemas of Greater Des Moines", which chronicles the history of all the old theatres in DSM that have been torn down, and I noticed a Hey Bob audio entry that was recorded at the Paramount. I'd be very interested in including that--and any other theatre pieces that I can find--in the documentary. Do you have any material that covers the theatres at all, or if not, could you possibly connect me with someone at the stations that might have anything? I recall seeing demolition footage of the Paramount on WHO and KCCI back in the late 70s--I'm curious if they have an archival vault of old material that could be drawn on.
I currently work in Burbank, CA at Technicolor in a DVD design department; in my spare time, I have put together a trailer for the documentary, which I plan to complete this year. I'm nearly done with the promo pak, which I would love to send you if I could get your address. My intent is to get people excited about their hometown history, whether they're from Des Moines or not--I think I can pull it off, and hopefully you'll agree once you see my trailer.
I hope to hear from you soon; keep up the great work and never stop!
Bob Dawson, the morning man at KCBC, ca.1948 was in my office this morning. I showed him his picture off your Desmoinesbroadcasting website from nearly 60 years ago and he lit right up. "That was out at the transmitter" he said and proceeded to tell us all about the turntables and the transmitter and the antenna array and on and on. I gave him a jpeg of the picture so he can print one for his scrapbook. I gave him your web address too.
Thanks for keeping the history. You made one grizzled broadcast veteran's day.
Executive Director - Community Television
Cable Channels 11 & 12
Eau Claire, WI
I received a phone call he other day from Bob Ogburn and, to say I was surprised is an understatement. I found your great website by accident a few months back and have visited it many times, showing my family and friends the people I used to work with. Bob and I spoke for a few minutes and then I noticed the next day that he had updated his personality timeline to include me in the mid 70's.
I am flattered to be included with all the greats from those years who I grew up listening to and then the privilege to work with. Jim Michaels comes to mind first because it was Jim who really got me interested in the business. I remember he was a friend of my Uncle and was working at KBAB in Indianola. I used to visit him and sit and watch and really got the bug for radio. I bugged the GM Mel Moyer until he finally gave me my first job. We all remember our first time behind the mic and most would like to forget them! But I was hooked. A couple of years later, I did what everyone did...sent aircheck after aircheck to anyone with a P.O. box. Finally, in 1974 Perry St. John gave me first job in Des Moines. I was there for the call letter change from KFMG to KGGO and was there when KSO went to country. What I learned from Perry and Ted W. Scott I used for the rest of my career. I could have stopped there and been happy, but then got the dream offer from Peter McLane from KIOA.
When you are just 23 or 24 and you are asked to come and work with the guys you grew up listening to, well, to say I was thrilled is also an understatement. I would walk into the studios at 215 Keo and see Peter, Ron Phillips, Dic Youngs, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really doing this. I worked Midnight until 6 and a few Saturday mornings for just a short time, but what a time it was. I followed Bill Allen and then at 5am, Del Monaco would come in and do the 5am newscast, followed by Jim Davis. Even after my shift was over, I would hang around and listen to those guys until I was afraid I would get thrown out of the studio.
A couple of years later, KIOA had a change in management and, as we all expierence, I went elsewhere to continue my career. After a short stint in Cedar Rapids with Steve Mathews, which didn't appear on my resume and if you ask Steve, he'll tell you it isn't on his either!, I returned to Des Moines and back to KSO/KGGO as Production Director. I still remember the first time I got to write and produce my first "Farmer's Daughter" commercial. Then, in 1979, I uprooted and took off to Florida where I ended up in West Palm Beach at Country-K. Where I was #1 for three straight "books" in afternoon drive. I left radio in 1985 and went into Law Enforcement for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department, some segue, huh. But, I always remembered my time in Des Moines and when I returned home in 1996, the first voice I heard on the radio was Youngsy, still sounding like he did back in the mid 70's.
Finding your website brought back a lot of memories. There are some that you like to remember like your first job in Des Moines or getting that call from Peter McLane and offered a job at KIOA. Then, there are others like, having to be on the air at KIOA at the same time as Chris Collins was on KGGO and he played the Bay City Rollers "Saturday Night" over and over and over until someone brought him a pizza! He got his pizza, I got a lot of weird phone calls! The only thing I wish I could do these days is challenge Del Monaco to a Karaoke contest. I think I could take him!
I didn't become a household name like the guys I just mentioned did, nor will I ever be placed in the Hall of Fame unless it's the "What the hell was that guys name" Hall of Fame. But those few years in the mid to late 70's have stayed with me ever since and any success I ever had I owe to all those guys. Thanks again for a terrific website and for remembering.
Randy Bingaman "Randy Williams"
Man, what a great website. Thanks so much for providing such a neat forum to preserve a segment of Des Moines' cultural history that touched just about everyone who grew up in D.M. in the 50's and 60's. I was born and raised in D.M. and grew up on the southeast side near Nathan Weeks Middle School (Junior High back then). My only connection to broadcasting is through my Dad who was a welder and worked for F. "Mac" Danielson who was a newscaster for KRNT-TV and radio and owned Des Moines Welding across from Wilden Clinic on Des Moines Street. I attended Lincoln High School from 1963 to '66 and listened to KIOA both to and from school. But even before that, our family enjoyed going to the old Pioneer Raceway at S.E. 14th and Hartford (which became the Pioneer Drive-In Theater) during the 50's. Jim Zabel and Doc Lemon were two of the track announcers that I recall. I believe WHO-TV even tried televising the jalopy races a few times, but as I remember the picture was real dark because the track lighting was poor and the cameras were not as sophisticated as those of today. But what an entertaining character Doc Lemon was at both Pioneer and Knoxville race tracks. I can remember seeing Don Bell's sock hop on Saturday afternoons, and a show where you had to use the milk bottle cap inserts from Hy-lan Dairy (later Borden) to buy prizes on the show. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in D.M. during this time where there was a good work ethic, traditional neighborhoods where neighbors actually knew one another and kids could play outside without fear of being abducted, where there was great emphasis on education and mothers would attend the PTA meetings and the whole family would attend "Fun Nights" at the neighborhood schools with local DJ's participating. Back then teachers taught the basic foundations of our democratic heritage without worrying about the political correctness of today's society, which only seems to impede the learning process. The role models provided by the "talent" at stations like KSO and the KIOA "Good Guys" and "High Hoopers" definitely had a positive impact on the character molding of the youngsters around Iowa and the Midwest, some of who's parents thought Rock 'N Roll was the "work of the Devil" and the ruination of the younger generation (if they only knew what kids are exposed to in today's music lyrics, they would be rolling over in their graves). One of my favorite radio personalities as I got older was Russ La Vine. I still have my membership card as a Charter Member (No. 139) of the KIOA Night Hawk Klub with Chief Night Hawk, Russ La vine's signature. After getting a good solid college prep foundation at Lincoln, I was accepted to the University of Iowa where I earned a bachelor's degree and all during those four years I would listen to KIOA until it was drowned out by WGN in Chicago late at night. While in college, I enlisted in the Navy Reserve and upon graduation I went to boot camp at Great Lakes and then was stationed in Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida. After 32 years I'm still in Florida, but I do miss Iowa and still feel very blessed to have lived those fun loving days (despite the Cold War and Vietnam) in D.M. where such radio and tv personalities as Doug Mackinnon, Dick Youngs, Jim Michaels, Slim Hayes, Walt Reno, Duanne Ellet, and all the rest made a positive contribution to the fabric of the community.
Ken Elliott, Ocoee, FL.
I grew up in Des Moines and like many others was glued to my transistor radio. I spent many long nights listening to KIOA and KSO and later to KFMG. I was able to meet Ron Sorensen and to help work on KFMG's underground newspaper, Mother's Invisible Voice while I was in High School. Later I worked at KRNT-TV where I got to meet many of the people I had grown up watching on TV. I can still remember the first time I met Russ VanDyke, what a gentlemen!. Your web site is a wonderful way to remember those great days. I've attached an article from the Des Moines Register from Aug 11,1969 about the concerts in Greenwood park, boy were they fun, and a copy of an add for KFMG that ran in the North HS newspaper. I'm sure it ran other places as well, but I talked the folks at KFMG into buying a full page add in the Polar Bear where I was on staff during my senior year.
Keep up the good work, I'll keep checking back for my fix of hometown radio and TV.
Growing up in post World War Two Urbandale, I became addicted to the "magic box," i.e. radio/TV. I can still remember Don Bell issuing one of his bell ringers. So, I especially appreciate thesite DesMoinesBroadcasting.
Question: do you know if anyone associated with the site, might remember a radio singer, Ken Morrow. During the WWII war years he struck out for the big time in Hollywood. At war's end the work dried up and Morrow returnedtoIowa. However, his daughter later went on to be a big time Broadway actress. You may remember her from her appearances on the old Merv. Griffin TV show. Fascinating story or stories.....
If someone has some notion about Ken,could you let me know. Thanks and keep up the good work.
My name is George Webber, and the George Webber you know of KWDM radio was my grandfather. I was recently googling him and Edith when I came across your site. How great! I was so pleased to hear the nice comments you made about KWDM.
I remember my grandmother and grandmother with great affection--they were wonderful people. It was lovely to see his story on the web.
Edith was also a book reviewer of WHO for many years. Her station could be heard all over the country. One amusing tale Edith told often was of a trip she took through Arizona. She went into a small grocery store, and purchased some items. The lady behind the counter said: "I know you. I know your voice." Edith said: "I've never been here...." And the lady said: "You're Edith Webber! I listen to your show every week." It so happened that this little town was perfectly framed geographically to receive the huge WHO signal. In Arizona....came in clear as a bell....
I am a tour guide here in Sonoma, California. And I am on a volunteer radio station---I do a show called "Rip Roarin' Tales of the Old West!" It is a historical radio drama show on KSVY...huge fun. You can hear it, and see a wonderful picture of Edith behind the WHO microphone on my web-site. www.georgewebber.com. (The Edith picture is on the George section of the site---click on upper far right of home page.)
Thank you for keeping my grandparents story alive.
I was thrilled to surf upon your site accidentally! What a pleasant surprise! My name is Sara Marx Mitchell and I used to work at KRNQ-102 in 1989-1991. I had many good friends there and roomed with Linda Austin, our midday chic! I was pretty young and had these sky-high dreams and on a whim, sent a tape to Tampa Bay's Q105 and got hired there as 6pm-10pm weeknights. There, a whole different radio battle took over between Mix 96, Power Pig and 105, of which we eventually lost as we were sold off the Clear Channel. I went to the Pig which was also eventually sold off! But you'll have that. Anyway, I was so wrapped up in that saga, that I had nearly forgotton all the faces and names you reminded me of.
My best friend was Phil Crowley, nights at Q102 in Des Moines. Have you heard anything about him or his whereabouts? Thought it was worth a shot.
I remember Chad Greenland writing all those letters to the station and I remember Phil reading me that letter on the telephone while I was in Tampa. He thought it was cute because I was originally from Ottumwa, Chad's hometown. Also, Chad contacted me in Tampa, as he was apparently friends of a cousin of mine, and he wanted to know how to get hired in Florida! Funny, huh?
Lastly, I adore Cal Beirman and was glad to see some of his stuff up. Anyway, thanks for the great site! You have made many of us very happy! Take care and if you get a chance write back. I will mark your site and return religiously!
Sara Marx Mitchell
About a month ago, I found your website and asked George about the current whereabouts of Rocky Prtichard. He wrote back to say that Rocky is still in radio, as J. P. Pritchard in Houston, Texas. Just today, I looked at your KFMG page to see him as "Dick Prichard" in the photo of the KFMG staff. I had COMPLETELY forgotten that Mike Meade was on that station. Mike was a housemate of mine for about 6 weeks in 1970, between my junior and senior years at Drake. As far as I know, he is living in Portland, Oregon, or was from about 1978 to the early 90's, where he was selling industrial pressure washers and tending bar.
I just recently found your site and I am in love with it. I have always been
interested with radio, and especially the history of it. The love for the
history side started when I was in the radio program at Valley High School. I
find the old air checks and jingles especially fascinating. Most of them I am
too young to remember, but they show what things were like back then. Growing
up I mostly remember Z93, Q102, KGGO, KLYF, and KKDM before Clear Channel .
Back in High School I wrote a paper about Des Moines radio
history that went into great detail about KGGO, KHKI, KXNO (it was KDMI then),
WHO, KMXD, KCCQ, and KASI. I think I still have it somewhere and if it would
be of any assistance to you and your site I could send you a copy once I find
it. It would be slightly out of date, I think I wrote it my junior year, so
around 1999-2000. Thank you once again for your wonderful site. I look
forward to seeing updates in the future.
Polk City, IA
Thanks so much for a website that brings back so many fond memories! As a kid in the 60s, I would shove my transistor radio under my pillow and listen all the way until the midnight sign off. Mom was none the wiser. I still recall hearing KIOA blasting loud and clear over the speakers at Northwest swimming pool so many summers ago. We kids trudged home after swimming for hours, and if my memory serves me correctly, we'd often watch an afternoon movie periodically interrupted by Dialing for Dollars. What fun!
Just a note to say such a sincere word of THANKS for your efforts in the Des Moines Broadcasting web site.
I grew-up about 70-miles north of Des Moines and can remember when WHO-AM was required to begin broadcasting 24-hours per day...now that is some time back.
I really appreciate being able to enjoy the history of broadcasting found on this web site. Thanks for all of your work and the efforts of many others who are not mentioned.
San Angelo, TX
aka Gary of the Rio Concho
"Better Texas than taxes"
As a young child I ate lots of Cocoa Wheats so I could send box tops in for
prizes. The offers came from some kiddie programs and I think they were
called "Happy Hank" or maybe it was "Uncle Stan and Cowboy Ken". My brother
and I have been trying to recall the jingles that Uncle Stan sang at the
beginning of his program which was at 7:30 or 7:45 in the morning and it
must have been in the 1940s. Does anyone know how the jingle went?
One part of the program was a dressing contest where the magic eye could see
through the radio and tell if the boys or girls were dressed and ready for
school. I am assuming these programs were on WHO. There was another
program in the 50s and it was the Skeeter Bond show. He was a singer and
yodeler and known as "the man with the high clear voice". My father took my
brother to see the show being broadcast but I can't find the photo he took
yet. I wish I could find someone who had a recording of a few of these old
programs, especially the Uncle Stan one. Is that just dreaming or did
someone tape anything "back then"?
I like seeing the interesting web sites about radio. Radio has always been
so much more interesting to me than TV. Thanks to whomever puts out these
wonderful radio web sites.
D. V. Wheat Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Editor's Note: Uncle Stan was on KRNT as a regular feature of the Don Bell Show. In the early 50's, his sponsor was Anderson Erickson Dairy . No recordings are known to exist, but perhaps your message will be seen by someone who may be able to help us.
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