Friday, December 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, KJAM!

Well, since my Lake Herman Friend already blogged about it, I figured I'd give a little more publicity to all of my five readers on this thing! LOL

On December 3, 1959 at 8:00 a.m., radio station KJAM signed on for the very first time on an assigned AM frequency of 1390 kilocycles (or for those living in the 21st century, 1390 kHz). Which means the place that has helped me pay my rent and keep me in good faith with my student loan company is now officially 50 years old.

Frankly, it doesn't look a day over 49!

But in all seriousness, with businesses changing hands, opening and closing at the drop of a hat, 50 years is something else. Hell, 10 years anymore is quite an accomplishment. So it's definitely nothing to sneeze at.

Thursday, John Goeman stopped by the station to reflect and to wish KJAM the best of wishes. John has been synonymous with KJAM all these years; when he graduated from Brown Institute back in 1959, he came to KJAM to work as the afternoon announcer and as the station's engineer.... all for the princely sum of $375 a month. Considering the average salary at the time was $2992, John was making some pretty good coin! He would later become the Station Manager and then Station Owner before selling in 2000 to Three Eagles Communications (Not "Communication", Cory!) of Lincoln, Nebraska.

He brought in this great book that was filled with advertisements, and photographs of the station througout the years. In fact the program log from that very first day was in John's collection. By the way... the station signed on at 8:00 a.m., then signed-off at 4:45 p.m., as it was licensed as as a daytime-only station.

But in talking with John and overhearing his conversations, I learned some interesting things about KJAM.

1) KJAM was not the original call letters that the owners wanted when they applied for a broadcast license. The founders actually wanted to use K-M-A-D with the "MAD" standing for "MADison", kinda like KSOO radio stood for "Sioux (or "SOO") Falls". But the FCC rejected the call letters, so the owners used KJAM, with the "JAM" named after the founder, Dr. John A. Muggly.

2) The original location for the station was above what was then Collignon's Hardware in Madison. Don't quote me on that, but I think that's where Central Business Supply is now located. The station moved to it's present location in 1969 when Northwestern Bank (now Wells Fargo) moved to its present Building on First Street and Egan Avenue. Although when something goes ca-ca (as it tends to do once in a while), we joke the the station is located on an "Indian Burial Ground"! LOL

3) Prior to KJAM, there had been another radio station of sorts in Madison. KBRK of Brookings had a satellite studio in Madison, above what is now Dakota Drug. However, when KJAM was established, the owners of KBRK shut down its studio, not wishing to compete with a home-grown radio company. It seems a little ironic that both stations would share the same owners a half-century later!

There are so many more interesting things I could share about the station, but frankly, the person to talk to would be John Goeman. He has so much knowledge, I really think he should write a book about KJAM. And I think all those great pictures, John, would make for an excellent website for locals and radio historians (like me) can enjoy. John, Cory, what do you think?

All in all, I just want to say "Happy Birthday, KJAM!" And I want to thank all of you who have tuned in for the last 50 years!


caheidelberger said...

KMAD—I was just thinking about that yesterday on my bike ride home, as I wondered what call letters I would choose for the rival station I'll start on the shores of Lake Herman someday. ;-) Darned FCC.

Jackrabit1 said...

Actually, Cory, there are two stations that have the call letters K-M-A-D...

KMAD-AM, which is licensed to Madill, Oklahoma.

KMAD-FM, which is licensed to Whitesboro, Texas.

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