|Slogan||The Voice of the Plains|
|First air date||1947|
|Power||5,000 watts day
110 watts night
|Callsign meaning||Farm Radio|
|Former callsigns||KNNN (1986-1986)
|Owner||Taylor Communications, Inc.|
|Sister stations||KCLY FM 100.9|
|Webcast||Listen Live (MP3)
Listen Live (ASX)
KFRM (550 AM) is a radio station licensed to Salina, Kansas, United States, but broadcasts from studios in Clay Center, Kansas. The station is currently owned by Taylor Communications, Inc. Due to its low position on the dial, KFRM enjoys a wide coverage area, blanketing most of Kansas and surrounding states during the day. The station runs all agricultural programming, "Full-Time Farm Radio".
 KFRM was founded by Arthur B. Church, a prominent broadcaster and the president of Midland Broadcasting company, operators of KMBC radio station. He had founded Midland Broadcasting in 1927 and over the years built KMBC into arguably one of the finest examples of full service radio broadcasting stations in the[clarification needed]. That full service programming would include countless live entertainment features, a fully staffed farm news department, complete with an 800-acre service farm, a multi-reporter local and regional news operation, home economics department, and comprehensive sports reporting. The station staff, including 30 full-time musicians and vocalists, would usually number between 115 and 130.
KFRM was issued a construction permit by the FCC on August 19, 1946, for a 5000 watt daytime radio station with the transmitter located in Cloud County, Kansas. KFRM was unique to radio in that it did not have an actual city of license. The FCC permit was issued to Midland Broadcasting Company, which would plan to extend KMBC programming into central and western Kansas with a satellite station on 550 kc. broadcasting from North Central Kansas. KMBC would plan to feed its programming audio over telephone lines 175 miles west to the KFRM transmitter site.
About 16 months later, KFRM signed on the air on Sunday,December 7, 1947. For the next fourteen years, the KMBC-KFRM team would bring, for the first time, some of the finest and most professional radio broadcast programming available anywhere to rural Kansas. The programming would emanate from the KMBC studios, on the 10th and 11th floors of the Pickwick Hotel, at 10th and McGee streets in downtown Kansas City, MO.
In June, 1954, KFRM was sold to Cook Paint & Varnish Company. This marked the end of a long broadcasting career for Arthur Church, that had begun in 1914.
In January, 1961, it was announced that KFRM would sell to Norman E. Kightlinger and associates, a, furniture dealer and real estate and insurance agent. His major partner was investor C.B. McNeil of Tulsa. The sale to the new owners, KFRM, Inc., was approved by the FCC in August, 1961.
In 1965, there would be both an ownership change, and a format change for KFRM. There had been four partners in KFRM, Inc.,but in September of that year, the FCC approved the sale of the station to C.B. McNeil himself, as he bought out the interests of the other partners. At the time of the ownership change, it was announced that the format of the station would change to that of country music. However, a tragic accident one week later would significantly affect the KFRM ownership and programming plans. On October 7, the 47 year old McNeil would be killed in a crash of his light airplane near Tulsa, OK .
In May, 1966, the executor of the McNeil estate filed an application with the FCC to sell the stock of KFRM, Inc. to JACO, Inc., whose major stockholders were M. Crawford Clark and James C. Treat. They were executives at radio station KOOO in Omaha, Nebraska, which was owned by broadcaster Jack Bozeman, better known by his on-air stage name, Mack Sanders.
The following portion of this KFRM history was written by Jerry Venable, original manager of "The Plainsmen"
The story goes that in the mid 50's, Mack Sanders came to Wichita with less than $100 in his pocket and said "I'm going to own me a radio station." He was affiliated with KFDI for a while, and he had a successful TV show called " Mack." In 1965, Sanders owned an AM station in Wichita , one in Omaha, and one in Lincoln . He had a "silent partner" by the name of Port Early, a respected lawyer in Wichita . He handled the legal business, while Sanders handled the broadcasting.
The take-over of KFRM came in approximately 1967. Sanders kept it "close to the belt" for the first year or so. He did have the Ranch Boys Band, which consisted of himself, his wife Jeannie, Wayne Pollard and Gene Morris. He also had Lee Nichols and The Minshall Trio. Jerry Minshall was news director, and Maxine Egbert became head of accounting. Then he brought in The Plainsmen, who had recorded "North to " with Johnny Horton. It was the title song to the John Wayne Movie by that name. They had experienced some poor management and were almost in a bankrupt situation when he took them into his company.
In 1968, Sanders began to work with Roy Clark, who had been fired from the "Jimmy Dean Show" for tardiness. Interestingly, he paid Roy an average of $300 per date in those days. Then, Roy had a couple of hit songs, before joining "Hee Haw" in 1969. By 1972, Roy was making $50,000.00 per night.
In time, Sanders made the entertainment part a separate corporation, "Mack Sanders Productions", owned by "The Plainsmen", with Jerry Venable as manager.
Entertainment always made the difference with KFRM. Each new studio built had a full sized broadcast studio, and "The Ranch Boys", "The Plainsmen", Lee Nichols, Mack Sanders and the whole gang did a live broadcast during the noon hour called the "Dinner Bell Jamboree." The show lasted long after all others had ceased from this format, and it worked very well, both in revenues and audience.
Promotional shows were always a part of the picture. In 1972, the annual "Singathon" was held in Hutchinson, Kansas . Abram Burnett, who hosted "Gospel Down South" on Sunday mornings, served as host of the show, and it featured some of the outstanding groups on Gospel Music. "The Statesmen", "The Boys", "The Cathedrals", Jimmy Davis, etc. It never had a bad turn-out.
The big KFRM Radio Road Show had some 23 people in it. "The Ranch Boys Band", "The Plainsmen", "The Marshall Trio", Juanita Rose, Lee Nichols, among others. Mack Sanders served as host.
In 1977, Mack Sanders purchased a radio station in Nashville, where he also owned a home. He announced that he had sold both KFRM and his Wichita FM station, KICT-FM, to Great Plains Radio, Inc., a subsidiary of the Peoria Journal-Star newspaper that also owned other radio properties.
In March, 1985, the sale of KFRM was announced to the general partnership of Compass Communications, a California organization. The sale was approved by the FCC in December 1985, and in that same month, Compass applied for the call letters of KNNN to replace the nearly forty year old KFRM call sign. Later, in 1986, Compass again changed call letters, this time to KICT.
Compass then announced they were selling all their stations, and KICT-AM 550 was sold in July, 1987, to HRH Broadcasting Corp., Herb and Ruby Hoeflicker, who immediately applied to the FCC to change the call letters back to KFRM. On Wednesday, October 21, 1987, KFRM 550 AM returned to the air.
Then next sale of KFRM came on February 15, 1991, when the FCC approved the sale from HRH Broadcasting Co to Great American Broadcasting, Inc., of Kansas, headed by Mack and Sherry Sanders. Sanders had, of course, operated KFRM before, from 1967-1978. Two years later, Sanders filed for bankruptcy protection for Great American, and on May 3, 1993, he sought to assign the KFRM license back to HRH Broadcasting. Sanders died later that year at the age of 80.
In August, 1996, HRH Broadcasting announced the sale of KFRM to Taylor Communications, Inc. of Clay Center, Kansas. The studios and offices were moved to in September 1996, where Taylor Communications also operated KCLY-FM. Kyle Bauer was named general manager of both stations. Taylor Communications continues to operate KFRM today, making them the longest term owner of the station.